Keystone Institute India
Keystone Human Services (KHS) is a non-profit organization that is a part of a global movement to provide support and expertise to people with disabilities.
We are part of a dynamic, growing national movement toward a more just and inclusive Indian society where all people are valued and belong, and people with disability have opportunities to step into valued roles and access the good things in life.
Keystone Institute India, a project of Keystone Human Services International, serves as a catalyst for developing supportive services in India that better serves people’s true needs, respects the voices and perspectives of people with disability and their families, and facilitates India’s movement toward a society where all people matter and have the opportunity to build the lives they want to live.
We seek partners and collaborators to work alongside us and with people with developmental and psychosocial disabilities. Together, we join a movement of change and provide opportunities for people to experience home, friends, family, work, and full participation in the community. Keystone Institute India provides extensive consultation and education around developing responsive, effective, and inclusive supports to help move toward belonging, acceptance, and a rich community life.
Ideas have consequences. We work with partners across India to assist in translating powerful ideas into potent, effective action. Take a glimpse into some of the actions happening across India to create a more inclusive Indian society.
Unity Uttarakhand restores life and dignity to people whose lives have been put on hold, sometimes for years, in custodial institutions for people with disabilities in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. We do the creative detective work to discover family members who were lost or separated from the person, re-establish bonds, and develop robust family support plans to reunite them, often after years of painful separation. We work diligently to untie bureaucratic knots that have kept people in the institutions, not stopping until forms are filled, permissions are granted, and the way opens. The Uttarakhand team vision is not just about supporting people to go back to their home, sometimes after 30 years of separation, but also works in guiding them to lead full rich integrated lives within the community. It is about each person with a disability stepping into valued roles like aunt, sister, community member, neighbor, commuter, customer, and many other roles within the communities and family they belong to. Roles that they had been deprived of while in the institution.
Many people who languish in institutions long to reunite with their families, lost to them because of misfortune, economics migration, or desperation, and families are often eager to have them. This has been an initiative that has shown deep, impactful results that have been slow to achieve yet are consistent and permanent. Yet another pathway out of institutions has been successfully implemented.
Working toward authentic inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disability in all spheres of life – work, home, school, neighborhood, and civic life – will require people who are skilled and prepared to walk alongside them, build bridges, and accompany them into full and rich lives.
Creating a valued and respected workforce of professionals who provide vital, complex, and very personal services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is a part of moving forward toward an inclusive future. Our aim is to create a dignified, respected profession that people will aspire to – that of being a direct support practitioner committed to a career of facilitating inclusion. We have created a robust curriculum designed to prepare people for this career, taking the first step toward stimulating recognition of direct support work as a professional occupation – a profession that those with the interest and commitment to work alongside people can aspire to. Grounded on principles of person-centered approaches and Social Role Valorization, the training seeks to develop a cadre of Direct Support Practitioners (DSP) who support and empower people with disabilities to lead rich, valued, and independent lives. Our method is grounded in preparing certified Master Trainers who will in turn develop many DSP staff who will be pioneers in their chosen and new profession of supporting people with disability to have full, rich lives.
The disability advocates and activists in the Indian context have influenced change in profound ways, and yet the voices and choices of people with intellectual disability have often been left out, undervalued, and not fully heard.
The last decade of the millennium has witnessed the slow but sure beginnings of the self-advocacy movement of people with disabilities that called out for recognition and protection of their human rights. An important milestone in the disability advocacy efforts was the passing of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 that came into force in April 2017. It has not been all smooth sailing though: not all disabilities are equally represented within the disability movement. Voices of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are often unheard, drowned out, suppressed, or overpowered.
Keystone Institute India provides an opportunity for self-advocates from across the length and breadth of the country to get together, build advocacy competencies, and talk about things that matter to them. This is an opportunity to strengthen and magnify the voices of people with developmental disability who wish to effectively work for change.
Keystone Human Services holds a compelling core set of values when it comes to assisting people with disability to lead dignified lives marked by belonging, freely given relationships, personal growth, and richness. This shared commitment led to the launch of Keystone Institute India in 2015, a values-based National Training Institute established to facilitate broad-based approaches to elevating the possibilities for people with developmental and psychosocial disability to lead full and rich lives.
Since its inception, the National Training Institute India has conducted learning events and workshops, touching the minds, hearts, and lives of people.
We focus on inclusive practice, participatory planning, leadership development, program design, and service evaluation. We have a special interest in developing responsive residential services that are firmly embedded in community, and our faculty have great expertise and experience in such programs.View Events
We hold a strong commitment that all people have a right to live in the community, and that institutionalization in custodial care institutions harms society and the people who live in such places. Community Lives, a partnership between Herbertpur Christian Hospital, The Hans Foundation, The Government of Uttarakhand, and Keystone creates exit paths from two institutions in the Himalayan State of Uttarakhand. The program has developed two small households in which eight women were liberated from the difficulties of institutional life, and are thriving in the community. This initiative demonstrates the amazing capacity of people to grow and thrive when embedded in a supportive community. Each of the people we serve are supported to live unique lives full of work, relationships, presence, and participation.
Creating authentic inclusive spaces for persons with disabilities that are an example to the nation is an integral part of what Keystone Institute India envisions and creates. The roles the people we serve are filling in the community enrich everyone – themselves, their neighbors, those who support them, and the society.
Never Too Early, Never Too Late: A Focus on Inclusive Education
Within our work across India, we promote a society which makes room at the community table for everyone, including people with developmental disability. Our mentoring, learning events, advocacy, and leadership development work is geared toward the idea that each and every person with disabilities can lead a more included life, no matter what age or life circumstance they are in. However, we know that trajectory toward a segregated life is often set in motion when children with disabilities are separated from typical children in special, segregated schools and classrooms. Despite the excellent laws and protections promising the right to education, many, and perhaps even most students with significant intellectual disabilities do not attend school alongside typical peers.
For this reason, Keystone Institute India strives to support families, students with disabilities, teachers, and school administrators to work toward full participation in regular schools with proper support and accommodations. We work with typical schools across the country to envision a PATH toward more and better inclusion of students with disability. We work with special schools to replicate practices of typical schools to better prepare students for an included work life and community life in the future. We work with individual people to facilitate powerful planning tools such as PATH, Personal Futures Planning, and one-page profiles which have proven to be so useful for envisioning an inclusive education, an inclusive transition to adult life, and a full and rich community life in which all of us thrive.
Opportunities to give of oneself and contribute to something larger is one of the good things in life that most people strive for. Employment is one of the primary pathways for people to contribute and find life purpose. It can contribute significantly to getting people the good things of life. For people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have historically been excluded from typical life opportunities, work provides a level playing field for inclusion in the community.
With a vision to drive a national effort at building expertise in employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the Certificate Course in Applied Customized Employment was launched with 28 registered participants from 17 organizations in Delhi, Lucknow, Kolkata, Odisha, and Bengaluru.
This program is crucial in supporting Keystone Institute India’s endeavor to promote meaningful, full lives for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through Customized Employment in India.
We offer intensive workshops and presentations on promising practices and ideas, and offer ongoing consultation and guidance in implementation strategies. As part of Keystone Human Services, we have decades of technical expertise and practical experience in community-based services for people with disability. Our faculty and associate faculty bring rich knowledge and experience in developing culturally relevant services and supports and envisioning all the possibilities of a full life where people with disability enjoy all the good things the come with home, school, livelihoods, and participation in the community.