Shaping one’s own future

Adil Rashid Malik from Kulgam, Jammu & Kashmir is so enterprising that his efforts are benefitting many in his village. He is not bogged down by his gradually losing vision of which more than 60 percent is already lost. He is only 19 years old and with this kind of enthusiasm the best is yet to come. He has been a client with Eyeway since 2016, interacting often on education related matters being a student. Eyeway has always assisted him overcome various challenges. This time he contacted seeking help to apply for a competitive exam with the India Railways.

He was born partially blind to a middle class family of five in Jammu & Kashmir. His family was highly supportive, especially his mother who taught him the value of education and independence for first time, the lessons his two elder brothers benefitted from. His elder brother is also visually impaired but has completed his post-graduation and the eldest one is in the local police. Adil was taken around by his parents for various medical consultations as a child but no fix was achieved to his losing vision. But this didn’t let the family to lose any hope or did they allow Adil lose even a bit of his confidence growing up. And those efforts didn’t go in vain. With the support of his family, teachers and a dear friend who wrote class notes for him he studied and finished his schooling. His aunt and uncle being teachers in the same school also helped him in making his studies and exams easier.

After finishing his school, driven by a consciousness to contribute back to the society he started a NGO in his village in 2010 for children of the school going age. He values education so much that he wants to support rural children to achieve good education. He is providing education for around 80 poor students in his NGO free of cost. Free education with study materials, food and basic clothing are provided for these students. At the same time he is also looking to study further or to gain some government jobs. He is also looking towards gaining some coaching for UPSC exams and other government exams. Eyeway counselor not only helped him apply for the Railway job for which he sought help, but also explained to him the scope various potential fields of education or employment he can prepare for.

Adil is an inspiration to many not only because he has overcome the challenges of disability but also for his desire to give back to the society. This will surely inspire many youngsters out there.

In need of the right guidance

Amitha Murali (name changed) from Ernakulum contacted Eyeway in July 2018, after hearing about it from the radio promotions. She contacted Eyeway seeking education related guidance. Amitha is a very ambitious girl having done her schooling and graduation with deteriorating vision with the support of friends and family. 21 year old Amitha came through a lot of struggles in education, mobility and daily living since 2rd standard when her visual impairment was identified for the first time.

Being a financially poor family there wasn’t much they could do about her treatment. Her mother who worked as a peon in a nearby school was the only source of income for the family. This income was barely enough to run the household chores. Thus, after Amitha complained about her vision and some reading difficulty, they couldn’t afford any major consultation or treatment. They temporarily aided her with a pair of spectacles. This seemed a relief at that point but her vision kept deteriorating. Without having any awareness of technical aids she struggled through her school life. Her friends and teachers helped her and the best they could do was audio record the class notes for her. She finished her school and graduation with whatever little assistance she could mobilize. But mobility and independence remained large obstacles for her daily living. Also, her mother being very protective she never travelled anywhere far and alone. Now her vision is diminishing exponentially than before and she is underprepared for the future. Except that she has replaced her spectacles with a magnifying glass for reading and other minor tasks, no significant improvement has come to her life. She has finished her graduation and she wants to gain employment so that she can be independent and also support her family. For this she has few government exams in her mind like the UPSC, Public Service Commission (PSC) etc.

On comprehending her issue, Eyeway counselor deemed it important that she learn computer and suggested that initially for her. She was made to understand that learning computer can help her prepare for her exams easier with accessible study material and independently. Also, counselor made her understand that computer knowledge is inevitable to any workplace, both in a private and public sector job. For this purpose contact details of computer training course was shared with her and also informed her to avail the facility of a free computer supplied from the Panchayat office for the visually people. And to do UPSC or any government related exam coaching, useful contact details were shared with her. But Amitha interrupted all suggestions which were far from her own town or even in another district. She shared her misgivings about travelling far from home or without the support of her mother. Eyeway counselor considering her fears suggested options close to her home and where she was confident of travelling, while subtly suggesting to her the need to overcome all such fears. A bright and ambitious girl like Amitha needs to empowered and informed so that she will not drown in the socially driven fears and doubts.

Eyeway counselor has taken it upon himself to communicate to her the idea of independence gradually that she reaches her goal fearlessly and with dignity.

Trailblazing a new path

Ravi Shankar Yadav from Maharaj Ganj, UP is 16 years old and contacted Eyeway for the first time in 2018 having no knowledge of living life with blindness. Ravi was born in a large financially poor family where his father is the only earning member. He was born visually impaired with a swelling in one of his eyes. His parents expecting to reverse the situation sought treatment for a long time but ultimately all efforts proved futile. Surgeries were done on both his eyes later in his teens but it didn’t result in any improvement except nullifying the chances of cancer. But Ravi did not compromise his education in the face of any challenges. He sought education support from various sources and regularly attended his school. He was helped by his friends and teachers in school. Initially with the advice of National Institute for Visually Handicapped (NIVH), Uttarakhand he studied in a special school till 8th standard and came back to Gorakhpur to pursue the rest of his studies. Currently studying in 10th standard he contacted NAB Eyeway not knowing about a future as a blind individual. Having very little confidence he called with the help of a friend. He spoke in bits and pieces not knowing how to articulate his concerns.

On conversation with Ravi Shankar, Eyeway counselor found that he is completely unaware of living life with blindness. Thus, his education, mobility, and daily living have been largely hampered due to this unawareness over these years. He has been depending largely on others to meet his daily requirements. Understanding his problems Eyeway counselor zeroed in to help Ravi out with education, technology and some life skills, which the counselor felt to be the impending problems. Counselor demonstrated to Ravi how to use a mobile phone with the help of talkback, Daisy Player for making reading books easier, use of computers, accessible study materials, smart canes etc. Also, hope and confidence was instilled in him to never give up on his studies. On follow-up it was learned that Ravi has already started making use of technology for his studies and sounded a happier person.

Being hopeful and positive

Ramaswamy M K is 25 years old and in search of employment. He has been trying for various government jobs for quite long now. He has tried banking exams, state and central government exams, UPSC exam etc. but hasn’t been yet able to clear any of them. But his patience and persistence has not tapered yet. He still reposes his faith in public sector jobs. It is the job security and income certainty which he argues in favour of his pursuits.

Being born blind into a financially poor household, he wouldn’t have gone to school unless the Gram Panchayat had not identified him and enrolled in nearby village school. But he was a hardworking student, moreover he had the will which became apparent while doing 7th standard when further vision loss shrouded his vision. He stopped schooling but not his education. He studied from home, took help of his friends and family and gave his exams. Again the lack of awareness and poor financial situation deprived him of any accessible study material or technology which could have made his life easier. But overcoming all these challenges, he managed to study. He completed his tenth, higher secondary and also his graduation. He never let any negative thoughts creep into his head but pushed forward hoping the circumstances to change. Though he wanted to pursue post-graduation, his financial situation was the obstacle. Instead he decided to prepare for competitive exams and look for public sector jobs.

In view of appearing for various competitive exams he went to Delhi and took some coaching. But unfortunately in the last few years his attempts to clear some of these competitive exams have not been successful. And the financial situation has been weighing him down on him and his family hard. His father a daily wager who is the only income source of his family won’t be able to support him for very long. He contacted the Eyeway counselor in EnAble India, Bengaluru with a laden heart. Counselor comprehended his issue and judged the situation basing on his immediate needs of employment and financial independence. Eyeway counselor tried to make Ramaswamy understand the need for looking for private sector jobs alongside government jobs. Counselor could convince him that it is possible to prepare for competitive exams and keep looking for government jobs while working in a private job, which is also more common than the public sector jobs. In order to prepare him for that counselor asked him to join the 9 months Foundation and Advance Employability course. Under this course he will get training in employment related skills, mobility, soft skills etc. Also, the counselor asked him to join an Advance Computer training course because having computer knowledge will help him for the future in giving exams or at his workplace. EnAble India also will be providing recruitment opportunities at the end of this course and help him find cheap accommodation facilities in Bengaluru during the time of the course.

Passion and determination as the drivers

29 year old Pradeep Pandhare contacted Eyeway in June 2018 from Pune, Maharashtra looking for government jobs. Mobility and orientation were challenges for him in his current job as a physiotherapist, and he felt a government job could offer more security and reduce his physical struggles. There were not many opportunities the counselor could suggest for him based on his 12th qualification. But the evident desire to succeed in his voice made the Eyeway counselor curious to know more about him.

Born with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) and Myopia, both vision degenerating conditions, growing up was very difficult for Pradeep. His everyday needs, mobility, education, thus a large part of his life was reliant on his family, friends and teachers. He started his education in a mainstream school but gathering notes, understanding lessons, writing exams were all challenges to him. But with the help of his friends and teachers he studied. After 6th standard there was a tremendous loss of vision in his eyes. He endured it all and finished his schooling with the help of friends and family. He joined for his higher secondary education in the science stream. He was confident that if he remains determined he can surmount any challenges. But here one of his professors became very uncooperative insisting that he should change his stream to Arts. Pradeep was adamant to learn science and this didn’t go down well for him. He failed in the subjects, was denied any additional assistance and finally Pradeep gave up his course. This was also because of the unawareness and ignorance on the part of these authorities who tried to decide for him based on their volition, rather than facilitating him with opportunities. This resulted in Pradeep, a bright and hardworking student being forced out of his passion to pursue anything for mere survival. After his schooling ended abruptly, he tried to pursue his education by open schooling but failed to progress. His passion being smothered by the system around left him confused. He was in a position to run with whatever he had at that point but not ready to give up. In 2007 he joined for a diploma program in Naturopathy and Yoga Science and after finishing this course in the next three years he joined for a Lab Technician course which was for a year. Being a highly enterprising individual he was always on the look-out for opportunities. He always thought about getting a job and being independent.

He earned his first job in 2011 as a Medical Laboratory Technician. But he couldn’t sustain this job because his mobility and orientation challenges appeared as obstacles. He had to give up the job but after persisting with its challenges for two and a half years. When employment didn’t work he went back to education and completed his higher secondary school in 2015. In 2016 he joined the National Institute of Naturopathy and completed a government certified course in Massage Therapy and started a new job as a physiotherapist. Also, he got married in 2017. Here is an individual who kept exploring options and whose passions never died out even after the system being hostile to him. Institutions, school and family at a point cornered him but he was never ready to agree that either education or employment was elusive to him. Despite getting married and having a family to look after he persisted with all the challenges of income, job, his mobility, his lack of education etc. to remain hopeful of a better future. But working as a visiting physiotherapist he still faced the challenges of mobility and orientation. These challenges gave him the idea of having a government job which can offer more job security.

On comprehending his issue Eyeway counselor has identified that based on his higher secondary qualification alone an appropriate government job was not possible. Eyeway’s experience with many such individuals looking for opportunities to study and work made Pradeep’s skillset appear lacking. Counselor immediately suggested him to gain some computer training, soft skills training like personality development to start with. Exploring various NHFDC loans with which he can start a physiotherapy clinic which can be a good income resource was also informed to him. He can explore this facility once he has gained some basic skills. Also, information on various job opportunities for visually impaired people was shared with Pradeep, both in private and public and the education criteria, competitive exams, age limits etc. related to it. He can also make use of that information as an alternative in case his interests change.

A large percentage of the youth demography of our country is going wasted because their lives get decided by the systems around them and not by their own merit. Pradeep Pandhare is only one example and Eyeway wishes the best for him.

The power of positive thinking

32 year old Bhawana visited NAB Eyeway from Panipat, Haryana in July 2018. She is visually impaired with very low vision and vague light and colour perception. She has gone through difficult times growing up and is still wading in muddy waters. Her determination is her best quality although her circumstances are highly challenging. She believes she will surmount the challenges in the future like how she did it growing up.

Since identifying her vision problem for the first time at a very young age, the challenges to living a normal life have followed her and abounded year after year. Her family took her for treatment to many hospitals across Panipat, Chandigarh, and Delhi but had to ultimately accept her deteriorating vision. But she continued schooling with other sighted students in the mainstream school where she was already enrolled. Gradually the challenges of sight loss became visible like her having to sit at the front desk in the classroom, reading and writing problems, no accessible study materials, etc. Her family was also unaware on helping her live with blindness. All they could do was to support her studies by reading out her study material for her, give her some physical support and security, and anticipate for the best to come out of it all. Bhawana also sought the help of her friends at school to understand and study her lessons. Neither she nor the school authorities were aware of any accessible study materials and her education progressed without even her knowing or availing the services of a scribe to give her exams at any point. And she also didn’t know Braille leaving that option out in making her education easier. But with all the persisting challenges and deteriorating vision, she studied ahead overcoming all the negative thoughts of dropping-out from school. With the help of friends, teachers and family she completed her graduation.

And in 2012 she got married to a sighted man after mutual understanding of the circumstances. But the marriage didn’t stand the test of times. The relationship soured after some time and in four years Bhawana got the divorce. Humiliation at the hands of her husband whose attitude took a U-turn after the marriage was the chief reason for divorce. She faced verbal abuse, mental agony and fear for her child’s future when she became pregnant due to the ill-treatment. All these difficulties led her to extricate her relationship with her husband and family. Now with the divorce and her infant child, life had gone much downhill, depression and anxiety crept into her life. She faced challenges as a VI because she didn’t have the adequate training or skills to work as a VI. But she mustered confidence, not wanting to give up, enrolled herself in a B.Ed program. After successfully completing it, she also got employed in a private school. But she had to give up her job after a year facing many challenges in teaching small children. This resulted in her life getting worse with depleting finances, dependence on others for a living especially her brother and family, uncertainty about the future etc. During this period she got to know about NAB Eyeway from a family friend and visited the Eyeway counselor in July 2018. Her immediate issues were education, employment and financial independence and with her B.Ed training, teaching job was always in her plans. But she was lacking appropriate training and skills for her independence.

In view of helping her gain employment and achieving independence in it, Eyeway counselor suggested the three months computer training program in National Association for the Blind (NAB), Delhi. This would help her gather accessible study material and manage it with ease. Also, information about accessible technology like Digital Library, audio-books, mobile phone software etc. was also suggested to her. In view of her qualification and drive for self-independence, options for several government jobs and various competitive exams were also provided. Bhawana wasted no time in enrolling into the computer training program and she is confident of a positive change to her life.

Persistence breathes fresh life

Visually Impaired Chotu Bharati, an 18 year old from Gorakhpur, UP in retrospect thinks the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) camp could have guided him better in pursuing his education and that would have helped him save the four years he lost doing nothing, being unaware.

Chotu had sight related issues from cataract since birth and in 2010while doing his 4th standard in school he lost his complete vision. His parents tried whatever possible treatment they could afford from around Gorakhpur and Lucknow till 2013 but they had to resign to the fact of his blindness soon. This also resulted in his school education coming to a standstill. But as a temporary relief to the family they met with a SSA camp representative in a Gorakhpur hospital and took the person’s guidance and joined the camp. He enrolled in an eight months long training and stayed in the SSA accommodation aspiring to make full use of the training program. He not only wanted to learn some skills but also wanted to learn about a life with blindness by socialising with fellow visually impaired individuals. The training wound up in 8 months and Chotu came back home after learning Braille. But before long he started thinking, now that he learned Braille what’s next? Whenever he enquired with the SSA authorities, he was assured assistance for pursuing his education in return. But nothing materialised and Chotu remained at home for the next four years believing there is nothing more left for him to do.

But somewhere a glimmer of hope was alive and he kept looking for solutions to come out of his circumstances. But the lack of awareness, access to information and poverty at home didn’t help his case. His father was a daily wager and the only breadwinner for a family of six. This left the family having to prioritise the majority’s problem over that of Chotu’s which was income, food, daily expenses etc. The family remained supportive but the necessities of existence forced them to leave Chotu to his plight. Chotu remained positive, kept going back to the SSA authorities, sought information from friends and other available sources like the radio, television etc. And his inquisitive mind did receive some comfort when his friend heard about Eyeway over the radio program ‘Hamari Vaani’ and informed him. It was the first time he heard of anything beyond Braille for the visually impaired and he couldn’t sit still. He gathered the number for Eyeway from his friend and immediately contacted Eyeway in July 2018. His visible problems were around education, employment and living life with blindness. He also shared that he wants to financially support his struggling parents. This was the first chance he got in four years to redeem his life and he was not going to let that go cheaply.

On comprehending his issue counselor found benefit in directing him back to education in order to complete his schooling. Also, the desire in Chotu’s voice to go back to school was evident. Age was also on his side to do schooling and cover for his lost years. Chotu was still confident of a day-scholar education over open schooling. To gain the right judgement counselor contacted the principal of Bharat Blind School, Delhi and discussed the issue. Over the discussion counselor gathered better knowledge and suggested to Chotu to join the Bharat Blind School where he can try being a day-scholar and if found difficult can shift to open schooling. In both the cases, he will be provided free accommodation and the opportunity to finish schooling in the few years ahead. This will also allow him to manage his life on his own. Chotu has agreed to the suggestion by Eyeway counselor and has enrolled himself in Bharat Blind School; New Delhi in September 2018.Eyeway could comprehend the context of Chotu’s problem and thus give him the right guidance and tie him up to the right place wherefrom we hope Chotu will make his dreams come true.

Why invest in a blind child?

Mahesh Kumar from Patna, Bihar is a fighter. He survived many perils without education, training and adequate income but still stands tall to claim back the lost decades at the age of 34, the many years of unawareness, ignorance, and rejection. Visual impairment that struck him with blindness at the age of 10 was not the biggest problem he faced, now looking back. Poverty, an inebriate father, education aborted at 10 years, social stigma etc. had greater impacts on his life. It was only his mother who cared for him and till she passed. His father not only rejected any interventions in Mahesh’s life out of social stigma and could only care less for him or his family, due to his addicted drinking problem.

The meagre income his mother earned from the menial jobs she did kept their heads above water. He had to stop his schooling after 3rd standard after he contracted eye flu leading to visual impairment. At that point the family sought treatment for his eyes from multiple sources. But their finances, limited knowledge and social background didn’t help them much, except Mahesh having to gradually resign to the reality of blindness. The end of schooling meant a dead-end to his normal childhood. He became confined to his house having nothing to do ignorant to the years passing by him. Only intervention in his life occurred when one of his relative informed his case to the Blind School in Patna and the representative from there visited his family. But there was no escape yet. His father forbade him any outside intervention or exposure in fear of potential disgrace. And in 2004, at his age of 20, his father helped him and his elder brother to set up a mobile accessories shop. This was more out necessity than out of achieving any clear direction, with their family reeling in poverty and Mahesh becoming a liability. He was expected to be independent and find a way of living for himself. But having no education, training or knowledge about blindness, what he could do was minimal. He worked with his brother in the shop helping him to do the packaging or counting of goods. And after few years of them running the shop his brother started to feel the exhaustion of supporting him and their relationship soured as a result. Gradually his elder took the shop over and kept him away. This further left Mahesh in a deep crisis and the future appeared bleak. His mother being the only supporting person in the family also passed during this period leaving him in a total helpless situation. And all he could do was idle away at home contemplating how he can save himself and his family. And he did brood over it for long.

But life was not over for Mahesh. He never knew his it was about to change when he got the Eyeway toll-free number from a Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) representative in his village in 2018. Out of encouragement from this representative who is a teacher with the SSA camp, he contacted Eyeway in June 2018. His problems were spread among education, training and employment. After all the discrimination and negativity from his family, his desire to find an employment and become a bread-winner for his family was so inspiring. All he wanted was to generate a value for him through education or employment. But at 34 it was not going to be easy, also with zero physical independence. Eyeway counselor had to take a prudent call here. If it is education, there is always the possibility of open schooling to restart or to pursue from where it was left. But the age of the individual, financial situation, family circumstances are all vital before an advice is given because in India social and familial obligations can’t be easily overlooked. Counselor made the call of employment as the immediate solution for Mahesh which appeared a better choice at that point because his family’s biggest problem was income making his existence a liability. It was understood from his own words that neither he nor his family might have the patience to wait till he is educated again. Thus, counselor directed him to the Blind Relief Association (BRA), New Delhi multi-skill program where he can gain training, rehabilitation and technology skills needed for his independence and employment. Also, getting training for agricultural farming was suggested to him as a means for self-employment after gauging his circumstance of having no education or job-related training. But he chose the former and joined the BRA program in July 2018, considering the fact that he will earn multiple skills in one year.

Mahesh’s case is one of sheer ignorance, unawareness and social stigma. His education being cut-off as a young boy, prohibiting exposure to the world outside or rejecting any rehabilitation for him eventually didn’t help him or his family who took those decisions for him. And when he became an adult, the once over-protective family started disowning him and pressurizing him to be independent. Such cases are in plenty, especially in the rural India where many visually impaired individuals lose out on their all-important childhood to the stigmas, egos and complexes of ill-informed families and societies. A transformation in the mind-sets of people is vital to bring about any radical change to this. Individuals like Mahesh and their abilities are not to be squandered off but to be invested in and mainstreamed to the human capital of our country.

Life does not stop with blindness

Access to nutrition, education and employment is fundamental to subsistence and sustenance of a dignified life. This principle is same for all countries – developed, developing or under-developed – but a certain enemy called ‘inequality’ imbalances this equilibrium. A large percentage of women in India are nutrition deficit at pre-natal, neo-natal and post-natal stages of the pregnancy, when another large percentage protested and amended the Maternity Benefits Act, 1961 in 2017. Such is the ‘inequality’ of our country and the issues resultant of it. Nutrition deficiency is leading to infants being born with congenital disorders affecting their normal growth.

Deepak Shriwas from Chhattisgarh is one such case, now 25 years old, but one who overcame the clutches of a miserable fate by sheer hard work, determination and the reception of timely intervention. He was born in those unfortunate circumstances suffered by a financially poor Indian woman, mothering a malnourished child with a weak functioning heart, hearing impairment and glaucoma inflicted blindness. For his family challenges were many – eight mouths to feed, meager finances of his farmer father, Deepak’s poor health and lack of awareness among parents to rear a visually impaired boy. His father being the only source of income in the family was incapable to meet the rising needs and their lack of awareness kept the family in the dark.

Unaware of the possibilities of living life with blindness, facilities or provisions, institutions or agencies available for rehabilitating the visually impaired people, the family persevered through the years cursing their stars and considering it all as their fate. The only progressive step the parents took was to put Deepak in the nearby mainstream village school. But there was no relief to be achieved in the school. Teachers discriminated and students alienated, leaving Deepak alone in the midst of a crowd. He was designated a separate spot to sit and not treated as part of the class. He had no access to study materials, notes or references, and no scribe to write his exams. There was no awareness, neither for him nor for the school. Only form of education for him was the classroom lectures. This lack of awareness of the school authorities also left them helpless to assist Deepak in any manner. Deepak on some compassionate grounds was promoted at the end of each academic year but didn’t gain anything in terms of learning. This continued till he completed his 9th standard. He couldn’t stand this discrimination anymore and decided not to continue as a liability any longer. He gave up on his education with a heavy heart, refusing to go to his village school anymore. But nobody except him and his mother suffered because neither his teachers nor his classmates had ever accepted him.

After dropping out of school in 2010, the next four years he stayed back at home not knowing what to do pursue next. He wanted to be educated and his mother wanted the same for him, but the question of ‘how’ curtailed them from thinking on it further. They had almost started thinking that it is better to forget than to cherish any unachievable dreams. But little did he know when he watched an episode of  Eyeway’s TV series Nazar Ya Nazariya’ for the first time in 2014 that it was a turning point towards a journey of hope, aspirations and success. He was particularly inspired by a line in the show ‘Life does not stop with blindness’. This line reverberated in him evoking positive emotions. He immediately contacted Score Foundation and shared his problems seeking solutions to many of them. And that effort didn’t go in vain. Eyeway counselor engaged him in conversation trying to understand his circumstances and how informed he was. Deepak seemed unaware and uninformed, for instance, he had never heard of special schools for the blind before.

Thus, counselor faced the challenge of informing him right from scratch on the provisions, rights, facilities, education, employment, institutions etc. available in India for the empowerment of visually impaired people. This totally opened up Deepak’s mind and all his dreams started to seem real once again. He confessed to the counselor that education was his primary need and wanted to pick up his education from where he’d left off. But as initial steps for rehabilitation and bringing his life to normalcy, Eyeway counselor suggested National Institute for Visually Handicapped (NIVH), Dehradun to gain training for multiple skills including computer and vocational training. He joined NIVH and being his ambitious self, learned computer and braille during the same tenure. On his own initiative he also mastered the computer softwares JAVA and HTML. His desire to succeed in life had no bounds after Eyeway gave him the first opportunity to steer his life towards his goals. This drive put him on his heels to educate and train as best as he can in minimum time.  Success seemed never far again for Deepak and self-belief was reinstated in him.

In 2017, he was ready to restart his education. Since regular school was not a possibility, he joined the CBSE open schooling program. Here again he had to face challenges. There were naysayers everywhere who raised negative opinions on the decisions he took, citing his weaknesses.  He had to face this intense negativity when he chose science subjects to pursue his education. This negativity is spread through uninformed opinions due to the lack of information on the part of the general public. Such information is not all true since many steps are taken by the government to make science education inclusive, though there is much left to be done on this end. Here again he faced the lack of accessible study materials and had to tutor himself with the help of videos on YouTube. But he surmounted all this negativity with his determination and cleared the 10th CBSE board exams in 2018 with excellent scores in the science stream. This doubled his confidence and he sought to continue his studies. To be prepared for a career he also decided to gain training in stenography. Eyeway helped him enroll for a stenography course in National Association for the Blind, Faridabad and he starts the course in July 2018 alongside his education through CBSE open schooling.

This case for Eyeway is distinct in many ways. Deepak, his mother, father and five other siblings are indicative of a typical family in India for whom education, employment, nutrition, accessible health services, and information is elusive. These are people who are easily bracketed as BPL, rural, lower caste or disabled and promised to serve through welfare means. Individuals like Deepak prove that if given the right guidance and support no brackets are limiting for them. Deepak overcoming obstacles despite his hearing and visual impairment, weak heart condition and poverty is a revelation to many social scientists and policy makers and he is not the only one. This makes us think if ‘inequality’ is a consequence or a cause.

To go the extra mile

25 year old Bappi, a resident of Jharkhand lost his eyesight overnight at the age of 13 due to sudden retinal detachment. He underwent treatment at Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai with the hope to recover his sight. After several treatments, his vision was restored but it only lasted only for 10 days. And once again he became visually impaired. His doctors motivated him to take part in training workshops which paved way for Bappi in joining the National Institute for Visually Handicapped, Chennai and Mitra Jyothi, Bangalore where he learnt how to use braille and computers. As a visually impaired person, it was quite difficult for him to understand the processers as the software system was not supportive to his needs. Nevertheless, this did not stop Bappi from acquiring knowledge and with the help of a few experts, he went on to complete Java C++ course in Vishakhapatnam.

Since childhood, Bappi dreamt of pursuing MBA. He took admission in a mainstream college and was fortunate enough to find extra help and support from peers and teachers during and after classes. While searching for jobs alongside his studies, Bappi came to know about Eyeway and instantly got in touch with the Helpdesk to seek solutions. He first inquired about bank related issues. Eyeway got in touch with the concerned bank (State Bank of India) and helped him procure his passbook after a long struggle. He shared that Eyeway provided him relevant and useful information about job prospects and coaching institutions as well.

After successfully completing his MBA, Bappi moved to Delhi to prepare for UPSC. He is currently working as a counselor in SAKSHAM and is preparing for civil services as he aspires to become an IAS officer and serve the society in his fullest capacity. He thinks that nothing is impossible to achieve for the visually impaired, and if at all Eyeway is there to help.