Image Credits: @SO Bharat

  • Jan
  • 29

NIFT students devise online platform to help children with intellectual disabilities cope with the pandemic

Author Image Fisto Staff

Design meets disability in the inclusive e-learning tool developed with support from Special Olympics Bharat.

A team of students from the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) Mumbai launched an inclusive, e-learning tool that aims to help children with intellectual disabilities to adapt to the new normal using the power of stories. Developed with support from Special Olympics Bharat, the narrative platform provides social and emotional education particularly to help children with learning challenges cope with social situations through customized animated stories.


The worldwide pandemic and the resultant lockdowns have had an adverse impact on children, with a majority being constricted at home and away from the classroom since March 2020. This sudden transition to online learning and the rapid lifestyle shift has been particularly challenging for children with intellectual disabilities (ID). After interactions with Special Olympics Bharat athletes, NIFT Mumbai students, Saloni Mhapsekar, Kritika Sharma, and Gaurav Singh, along with their team of 15+ people, came up with Typed Tales to address this pressing issue. The final year students of Fashion Communication Strategy spent 16 weeks of research and conducted 180+ hours of discussions and interviews to recognise the challenges being faced by people with ID and address them through innovative usage of design. 


Talking about the platform, Saloni Mhapsekar says, "Our aim was to use design to overcome disability. We wanted to create an online platform that helped children with intellectual disabilities to have a better understanding of the new normal, manage their emotions and build healthy relationships, all through the reformative power of story-telling. Working on this project has been a life-changing experience giving me a new passion and direction in my career towards inclusive design."


The project was funded by an Innovation Grant awarded by Special Olympics Bharat to the sibling pair Aakriti and Alankar Gupta. ­Innovation grants are project-based grants are awarded to young leaders with and without intellectual disabilities so they can promote inclusion in their school and community. Through innovation grants, Special Olympics will boldly empower a Unified Generation of youth, ushering in a worldwide revolution for inclusion. Innovation grants will be awarded to individuals and Unified Pairs (one youth with ID and one without) to marry grit and urgency with aspiration and determination, fostering inclusion for ALL both on and off the playing field


As conspicuously demonstrated by the team from NIFT Mumbai, the success of innovation grants is rooted in seeding experiments among youth and flipping the power paradigm in instituting radical social change so youth with and without ID directly drive change.


Aakriti Gupta further adds, "Be it an educator, student, athlete or parent, Typed Tales aims to give them all a voice, as it is based on the understanding that every person has a story to tell. I can already see how useful this website will be for my brother and others like him who have intellectual disabilities. I hope this encourages more students to come forward and utilise their learnings to create inclusive projects."


The multilingual platform is now live and offers free access to all at

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