Battling ignorance

Santosh, a resident of Ballia Uttar Pradesh, was denied an ATM card by his local bank branch.  A friend advised him to seek support from the counselors at the Eyeway Helpdesk. The helpdesk informed Santosh that the bank was denying him of his basic rights. They forwarded to him the RBI and IBA guidelines that clearly state that a visually impaired person cannot be denied an ATM card. The guidelines also mandate banks to make their services accessible to visually impaired customers. Santosh approached the bank again, this time equipped with the right information and attitude. The bank has finally issued Santosh an ATM card. The battle is only half won. Santosh is still struggling to get a cheque book issued in his name.  Most banks do not have the technology that recognizes thumbprints. This poses a major problem for those with visual impairment to avail of services like cheque books. With the coming of the digital India campaign one hopes for the situation to take a turn for the better not only in the cities but also in rural India.

Student in search of a scribe

Durgappa  is a visually impaired student residing in Dharwad, Karnataka. He is in his final year studying B the original source.A. He contacted our counselor at Bangalore seeking assistance in organizing a scribe to help him write exams. We connected him to Pen Volunteers, a Bengaluru based organization which arranges for scribes to write examinations. A night before the exam, Pen Volunteers informed Durgappa that they would not be able to provide him with a scribe for his examination. This last minute cancellation left Durgappa anxious. With great difficulty he arranged for a scribe and managed to take the exam. He contacted us soon after his exam to inform us of the incident. We have recommended Pen Volunteers to so many students in the past and they have delivered mostly without fail. On probing further, we were informed that since Pen Volunteers operates from Bengaluru their reach in other parts of the state is still limited. This brings to light the need for engaging more organizations across states in order to prevent our callers from having to unnecessarily face stressful situations. One also has to factor in the larger picture where there is a dearth of individuals and organizations on a national level that can provide volunteer scribes to students with disabilities.

Access to information

Venkatesh (name changed) recently got in touch with the Eyeway Helpdesk to share his concerns about his education. During his interaction he shared that he has 40% visual impairment.   He is currently pursuing B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering and presently is in the fifth semester. As per the doctor’s suggestion he is able to perform field work but cannot engage in doing computer work. He also shared that he doesn’t feel comfortable to   operate the computer.  Our counselor Devashish Bhargav suggested he find out more details about his eye condition whether it is be degenerative or stable. This information would then help Venkatesh identify the course of action for future.  We also provided him information about screen reader like JAWS and NVDA. We put him in touch with EnAble India for computer training. To help Venkatesh gain a broader understanding of possibilities with regards to career options, Devashish recommended he view our TV Series ‘Nazar Ya Nazariya’ on our YouTube Channel and further informed him about the kind of opportunities that are available both in the government and corporate sector.

Overcoming self-doubt

Harish Kumar (name changed) had first contacted the Eyeway Helpdesk in 2013.  Due to his gradual loss of vision he had become disillusioned and wanted to discontinue his studies post his class 10th examination three years ago. Our counselor advised him to complete his education and at the same time shared inspirational stories of visually impaired people who have achieved despite their disability. Encouraged by our guidance Harish was thus motivated and has completed his class 12th successfully since then. This October he again reached out to the Helpdesk seeking information on scholarship schemes. He informed us that he is currently pursuing B.Ed in Dr. Shakunthala University. This has proved to be a milestone in his life, since three years ago he was disillusioned and today he is an inspiration to many to not give up hope and to strive better generic levitra online cheap.

Technology to the rescue

Priya, a 32 year old housewife and mother of three, began losing her eyesight a few years ago. She was diagnosed with low vision which over time only became worse. She got in touch with our helpdesk seeking information on how she could cope with this loss of sight. Our counselors provided her with information on the available technologies and resources that would enable her to adapt to her eye condition. She was told about screen reader and other apps that would ensure that she could continue using her laptop and mobile phone. She was thankful to our counselors for providing her this information as she was completely unaware about these available technologies and resources. She was keen to resume her everyday tasks and get back to life. We also guided her to the Eyeway website where she would have access to additional information about living life with blindness.

Reaching out

Manoj (name changed) a 30 year old resident of  Siliguri  West Bengal, recently got in touch with the Eyeway Helpdesk to share concerns about his future. After completing his tenth standard, he started losing his vision, due to which he was unable to continue his studies. Our counselor Dominic Roy advised him to enrol in an open school so that he can complete his basic studies and given his age and need for means of livelihood, connected him with Blind Relief Association Delhi. The Blind Relief Association focuses on providing education and training to the visually challenged, enabling them to realize their potential through vocational programs and mobility training. After receiving guidance and counseling Manoj has a clearer vision about his future.  Sometime back he called to inform us about his progress and shared that he is going to begin his vocational training program in Blind Relief Association, Delhi.

Pursuing your dreams

One young man who connected with our helpdesk recently has a similar story of hope triumphing despair. Manish, a 22 year visually impaired student from Punjab had recently completed his B.Com.  He had an idea, a dream and a hope in his mind. He had always been interested in and had wanted to study law. However, he had a mental block regarding his capability to achieve this dream. He shared that he was very doubtful if he could ever get the opportunity to study law due to his visual impairment.  Our counselor assured Manish that there was no legal ground for him to be denied admission into a law programme just because of his visual impairment. We motivated him to apply for admission and to prepare well for the exams. After putting in a lot of effort into the preparation and application process, he recently shared with us an amazing piece of news. Manish finally fulfilled his dream of becoming a law student. He got admission into the prestigious Law Department at Punjab University and is currently studying there. We would like to thank our counselor Ankita Bhuteja of Navchetna for sharing this story.

Reclaiming life

Vijay, aged 22, lost his eyesight soon after he completed 11th standard. This prevented him from continuing his education and left him feeling depressed and helpless. The fact that he belonged to a lower economic background just made matters worse. After having spent almost 3 years at home he finally heard our radio advertisement and contacted our helpdesk, desperate for a solution to his problems. He was made aware of the fact that life does not end with blindness and that there were many options he had to take his life forward. Since he was not eligible for the computer training courses, he was instead suggested vocational and rehabilitation courses that he could enroll in at NAB, M.P. He was informed of the mobility programs that would help him move around with ease.

Empowerment through technology

Nineteen year old Rakesh, a resident of Ramgarh, Jharkhand, found out about the Eyeway Helpdesk through a friend. He called the helpdesk curious to know whether a visually impaired person could operate a computer. Not only did our counselors assure Rakesh of this possibility they also shared with him information about the many available software and apps that enabled visually impaired persons to access computers, smart phones, books. Rakesh, having shown interest in gaining some computer skills, was guided to the National Association for Blind (NAB), Jamshedhpur. He has gotten in touch with NAB and hopes to join a computer training program soon.

Demonetization Blues

Govt needs to ensure that the recent demonetization does not lead to financial exclusion of the blind and visually impaired citizens

If the recent demonetization of 1000 and 500 rupee notes has to be made into a success for all sections of society then one needs to pay attention to the below listed red flags as far as persons with blindness and visual impairment are concerned. A cashless digital economy may imply near financial exclusion of the blind population from the mainstream economy. Read more