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A wheelchair user helps bring accessibility to India

After an accident left him paralyzed, Prateek Khandelwal has founded two startups to promote wheelchair accessibility in India

Prateek Khandelwal is a 38-year-old engineering graduate hailing from Bangalore, India. He had been successfully managing his own business and had established his own residence in the city. He was at the verge of getting engaged with his long-term girlfriend.

A pivotal moment took place in Prateek's life at the age of 28 when he fell down the stairs of a building under construction, leaving him paralyzed.

“I had everything that I dreamt of in my 20s. I was living my life, but May 30, 2014, changed everything.”

Prateek Khandelwal

Wheelchair users face social isolation in India

Sometime later, Prateek wanted to go out again in his wheelchair and show the world that he was still the same person after the accident. Instead, he could not go anywhere. Prateek recognized the widespread inaccessibility of various public spaces in India, such as restaurants, banks, supermarkets, and many more. His environment was not at all ready for someone in his situation.

“It was not just eateries. But malls, parks, ATMs, railway stations, and airports were all inaccessible. This is undoubtedly one of the biggest problems that India is facing today. It is high time that society understands that people with disabilities face a lockdown every single day of their life due to this.”

Prateek Khandelwal

Inclusivity is not an unknown concept in India. The country has ratified the UN Convention On The Rights Of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD) in 2007. India’s Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act of 2016 declares in Chapter II that the government “shall ensure that the persons with disabilities enjoy the right to equality, life with dignity and respect for his or her integrity equally with others”. However, like many other developing countries, India is still far away from being an accessible or inclusive society.

RampMyCity bridges restaurant accessibility gaps

According to The Times of India, Prateek first asked restaurants to install ramps, which some did. However, upon inspecting the ramps, Prateek found that the ramps had design flaws that made them unusable. They were either too steep, ended abruptly or had a wall at the end.

This observation prompted him to embark on a mission to design, construct and install ramps. The ramps had to be seamlessly integrated into the architecture of the buildings, ensuring that they did not impede accessibility.

To address this problem, in 2018 Prateek founded a startup called RampMyCity, a social enterprise. The aim of this initiative was to make restaurants wheelchair accessible, primarily by procuring portable ramps.

 small rampmycity wheelchair ramp

RampMyCity’s projects range from small ramps …

 medium rampmycity wheelchair ramp

… to medium-sized ramps …

large rampmycity wheelchair ramp

… to large installations with double side railings …

permanent rampmycity wheelchair ramp

… to cemented ramps. (Source of all four photos:

By 2022, RampMyCity had enhanced accessibility for individuals with disabilities at around 300 sites, as reported by the renowned Indian newspaper The Hindu. These include workplaces, residential societies, schools, colleges, hospitals, public parks, police stations, ATMs, supermarkets, sports and recreational facilities, eateries, hotels, and government buildings.

One of their most recent projects was to make the popular Big Bull, Basavanagudi and Sri Vinayaka temples in Bangalore wheelchair accessible with ramps, disabled parking, and signage. Updates on their latest projects can be found on RampMyCity's and Prateek's Facebook page.

prateek khandelwal taking measures for ramp

Prateek Khandelwal and his colleague taking measures for a new ramp.

prateek khandelwal with his team at rampmycity workshop

Prateek with his team at the RampMyCity workshop. (Source of both photos:

In the following video, Prateek presents examples of buildings that RampMyCity has made accessible:

In this video, set to Indian pop music, they added ramps to an entire outlet mall:

RampMyCity also provides disability inclusion training

Prateek had also noticed that restaurant staff lacked disability awareness and were unable to assist or communicate properly with disabled customers. For this reason, RampMyCity also provides practical training to employees from the public and private sectors. The goal is for participants to gain the awareness to adjust their attitudes and behaviors toward people with all types of disabilities.

The training programs include sensitivity lessons about “the do’s and don’ts” as well as practical lessons, such as how to take reservation calls, how to safely help a wheelchair user over a ramp, and how to perform a transfer. The following video provides an insight into disability inclusion training:

«Don’t blame them, train them.» 

Motto of RampMyCity’s disability inclusion training

Prateek Khandelwal advocates for inclusion in India

In 2021, Prateek won an Accessibility and Universal Design Award by the Indian National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People.

prateek khandelwal with universal design award

Prateek Khandelwal winning the Accessibility and Universal Design Award. (Source:

According to Prateek's LinkedIn account, RampMyCity’s work has also been recognized by UNICEF, WHO, and the World Bank. Prateek’s story and the founding of RampMyCity has been featured in many Indian and international media outlets, such as in the news clip below.

Prateek’s advocacy work is not limited to his startups. Through public speaking engagements, interviews and social media, Prateek is committed to changing perceptions and overcoming the barriers faced by people with disabilities in India. Check out this podcast with Prateek or watch the following TED Talk:

In his TED Talk, Prateek challenges misconceptions and stigma surrounding people with disabilities, emphasizing internal change to break free from barriers.

“My main idea is to make India accessible and inclusive. Society must understand that accessibility is not a privilege but a service that is need of the hour. We are the solution.”

Prateek Khandelwal

Not only has Prateek achieved great professional success, but personally, he has made great ‘steps’ ahead as well. After his accident, doctors told him that he should be prepared to be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Instead, after several years of intensive training and physiotherapy – he spent 8-10 hours exercising every day –, Prateek is able to stand on his feet again and walk with the help of elbow crutches.

prateek khandelwal walking with crutches

Prateek Khandelwal can stand on his feet again and walk with the help of elbow crutches. (Source: Special Arrangement /

Have you ever been to India? What were your experiences with accessibility in a developing country?

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