ICDR-India’s objective is to promote collaborations to improve rehabilitation, education and vocational training services for people with disabilities in underserviced areas of India and to conduct research in the field of rehabilitation and to promote fundraising for disability services.


Chair: Dinesh Krishna







Vice-Chair Education: Janna MacLachlan






Vice-Chair Research: Cathy Cameron



Amar Seva Sangam (ASSA), is an Indian non-government organization located in Ayikudy in the state of Tamil Nadu in rural South India that was founded in 1981. ASSA’s facilities include an integrated school, vocational training and higher education centres, school for children with intellectual impairment and multifaceted rehabilitation centres with a focus on spinal cord and stroke rehab. Community / village based rehabilitation programs at ASSA includes early intervention program children below age 6, school age rehabilitation program for children above 6, self-help groups, vocational training and livelihood development programs. In total, ASSA serves more than 15,000 people with disabilities in over 800 villages each year.  


Handi-Care Intl. (HCI), is a registered Canadian charity, founded in 1992 with a focus on supporting people with disabilities in low resources settings. HCI has supported projects in both Canada and India, with its main partner being Amar Seva Sangam. HCI has facilitated clinical placement and volunteer opportunities for rehab students and professionals in rural India. 

Ramachandra University (SRU-SLHS) 



Amar Seva Sangam

In partnership with Amar Seva Sangam (ASSA), ICDR-India has sent Canadian physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech language therapy students to South India for clinical placements since 2019.

Handi-Care Intl. (HCI)  has agreements with 11 universities across Canada to facilitate clinical placements at ASSA for rehab students.  106 OT, PT, SLP students, physiotherapy students, have participated in the clinical placement program since 2015. In addition, HCI has recruited 42 rehabilitation professionals (OT, PT, SLP) to be volunteer supervisors for Canadian students at ASSA. Students and therapists work with the ASSA’s disabled children and adults and focus on capacity building, knowledge exchange, and sustainable interventions. At ASSA, there are 4 OTs, 9 PTs and 1 SLP that are capable of supervising Canadian students. 

Focus areas for student placements have included: 

  1. In-patient Adult Spinal Cord Rehab
  2. Out-patient Adult Stroke Rehab‎
  3. Early Intervention Rehab Program 
  4. School Age Children Rehab Program‎
  5. Special Needs School (children with intellectual disability)‎
  6. Village / Home Based Early Intervention Program (age 0-6)‎
  7. Village / Home Based Rehab Program for Children (age 6-18)‎
  8. Out-Patient MSK Rehabilitation 








Mr. Ramasubramanian , PT – Clinical Placement Coordinator ASSA







ASSA’s OTs (3), PTs (7), SLP (1) attending workshop on student supervision 









Students on Clinical Placement 

Ramachandra University 

The placement with Ramachandra University provides a unique opportunity for speech language therapy students



Current Project

  • Early Intervention Therapy for Children with Delayed Development: Enabling Access in India Rural Communities. ASSA has developed a village-based early intervention rehabilitation program to improve access to early identification and early intervention therapy for children with developmental delay. Increased access to therapy will enhance physical, cognitive, language, social and emotional development, and increase inclusion and participation of children with delayed development within families, schools and communities. An evaluation is currently underway to evaluate the impact of ASSA’s Village-Based Early Intervention program for children with developmental delays, age 0 – 6 years, and their parents/caregivers on developmental trajectory, school enrolment, treatment compliance, and caregiver change. Funded by Grand Challenges Canada. April 2017 – March 2020.  https://www.grandchallenges.ca/grantee-stars/sb-0819-05/

Presentations and Publications

1. Storr, C., MacLachlan, J., Krishna, D., Ponnusamy, R., Drynan, D., Moliner, C., McLaughlin, K., Murphy, S., Edgelow, M., Campbell-Rempel, M.A., Bossers, A., Lauckner, H.M. and Cameron, D. (2018). Building Sustainable Fieldwork Partnerships between Canada and India:  Finding common goals through evaluation. World Federation of Occupational Therapists Bulletin, 2056-6077. doi: 10.1080/14473828.2018.1432312

2. The effectiveness of Community Rehabilitation Worker Case Identification and Prevalence of Developmental Delay among Children under 6 in rural Tamil Nadu: A cross-sectional study was presented at the Canadian Physiotherapy Association Congress Nov.2018. 

Presented by: Mr.Ponnusamy Ramasubramanian

https://physiotherapy.ca/sites/default/files/congress_montreal18_book_of_abstracts_for_utp.pdf  (see page 23)

3. Community Based Rehabilitation: An Assessment of Community Based Rehabilitation Workers’ and Trainers’ Perception of the Training Experience in Rural South India. Submitted for Publication with the journal – Disability and Rehabilitation

4. Positive outcomes in caregivers of children with developmental delays enrolled in a community-based early intervention programme in South India. Submitted for Publication in the journal – Disability and Rehabilitation. 

5. Capturing service users’ goals in an early intervention program in south India presented at the World Federation of Occupational Therapists Congress 2018. https://congress2018.wfot.org/poster-programme.php

6. Early Intervention Therapy for Children with Delayed Development in Rural India 

Presented at: Canada India Health Care Summit – Distant and Rural Care Session, March 30, – 31 2017. New Delhi, India. Presented by: Mr. Sankara Raman

7. Digital Health Solutions for Children with Developmental Delays 

Presented at: National Physiotherapy Conference, Physio Bliss 2017. June 15 – 16, 2017

Coimbatore, India. Presented by: Mr.Sankar Sahayraj.  

8. Evaluating an Early Intervention Program in Rural India.

Authors: Zoe Campbell, Sankar Sahayraj, Dinesh Krishna, Sankara Raman Srinivasan, Ramasubramanian Ponnusamy

Presented at: Canadian Association of Occupational Therapy Conference, June 20 – 24, 2017. Charlottetown, PEI. Poster Presentation

9. Mobile Phone Facilitated Speech Therapy

Presented at: Workshop on Cross-Sectional Scheme in Education, Health, Employment and Rural Development. March 2017. Keynote Presentation: Ms.Bhuvan, Speech Therapist

10. Mobile Technology Used In Early Intervention Mobile Phone Facilitated Speech Therapy

Presented at: Workshop on Cross-Sectional Scheme in Education, Health, Employment and Rural Development. March 2017. Madurai. Presented by: Sankar Sahayaraj and Ramasubramanian Ponnusamy

11. Mikalson, K., Stevenot, J., Van Oort, C., Ponnusamy, R., MacLachlan, J., Krishna, D., Busson, K., & Tassone, A. (2018). An international collaboration: Enhancing preparedness to address the mental health concerns of clients with a spinal cord injury. Occupational Therapy Now, 20(2), 24-25.

12. Abdulrahman, J. (2016). A fieldwork placement at Amar Seva Sangam: A “just-right” experience in community-based program development. Occupational Therapy Now, 18(4), 19-21.

13. Storr, C., MacLachlan, J., & Ponnusamy, R. (2018, June). An evaluation employing ethical guidelines: Building sustainable international fieldwork partnerships. Paper presented at the 2018 Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists Conference, Vancouver, BC.

14. Storr, C., MacLachlan, J., & Ponnusamy, R. (2018, May). Building sustainable fieldwork partnerships between Canada and India: Implementing common goals identified by an evaluation employing the Working Group on Ethics Guidelines for Global Health Training (WEIGHT) guidelines. Poster presented at the World Federation of Occupational Therapists Congress 2018, Cape Town, South Africa.

15. Ponnusamy, R., Stevenot, J., Mikalson, K., Van Oort, C., & MacLachlan, J. (2017, November). Collaborative development of a group intervention to address mental health in clients with spinal cord injury. Poster presented at the International Spine and Spinal Injuries Conference 2017, New Delhi, India.

16. Stevenot, J., Mikalson, K., Van Oort, C., Ponnusamy, R., & MacLachlan, J. (2017, June). Partnering to support mental health in Indian clients with disabilities. Poster presented at the 2017 Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists Conference, Charlottetown, PE. 

17. MacLachlan, J., Krishna, D., McLaughlin, K., & Ponnusamy, R. (2016, April). Building occupational therapy service capacity in an international low-resource setting. Poster presented at the 2016 Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists Conference, Banff, AB. 

18. Krishna, D., McLaughlin, K., MacLachlan, J., & Ponnusamy, R. (2016, March). Building occupational therapy service capacity in an international low-resource setting. Paper presented at the 2016 McGill Global Health Conference, Montreal, QC.


Contact Us

For more information, please contact Dinesh Krishna