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

Overcoming disability through a positive attitude towards life

By Shruti Pushkarna

Visual impairment is not in the eyes, it’s in the mind. If you will feel that you are visually impaired then you will not be able to do anything. You need to go out of the way to explore the world.

Says Chetna Nagpal, who was born with an eye condition called Nystagmus. It is a condition of involuntary eye movement that may result in reduced or limited vision. In her case, Chetna can see things but is unable to focus on anything. But unlike many, Chetna does not find her disability to be limiting. She believes visual impairment is more of a mental condition than a physical one.
A 21 year old ambitious young woman, she is studying in her first year Political Science major in one of India’s top colleges, Lady Shri Ram College for Women. Born to totally blind parents, Chetna did not have it easy while growing up. Chetna’s parents did not know she could see at all until the age where she started to talk and point out things to them. Read more

Hospital to Hospit-able: How hospitals can overcome inaccessibility

By Anoushka Mathews

Most government hospitals in Delhi, despite being spaces for diagnosis and recovery, are teeming with lines, unending paper work, and tired patients. The wait is long for those who do not have an uncle or cousin working at the hospital. However, for those who are visually impaired, even basic access to hospital services and facilities is possible only through dependence or great strife.

Imagine being visually impaired and visiting the hospital alone. The obstacle course begins even before entering the hospital. The only way to locate the main gate is to rely on a helpful passerby. On arriving at the main entrance, again, the only way to proceed further is to depend on directions from a guard or a fellow patient. Many are not trained to provide such assistance, and may provide instructions that might not make much sense to a person who is blind or visually impaired. Read more

World Disability Day Musings

By George Abraham

Every blind Indian is potentially a part of the Human Resource of the country. They must be invested in and not merely provided for. The nation needs to realize this as much as the government, the society, the families and the blind person himself or herself needs to realize this. There is a huge potential which we need to recognize, nurture and tap into. Read more

Self reliance through technology

A meaningful example of how accessible technology can change lives has emerged from our own helpdesk recently. Harish (name changed), a 44 year old man from Delhi had been dependent on others for a long time to manage his small business. He runs a momos shop in Delhi and uses his mobile phone to keep in touch with his ingredients suppliers, customers, family and friends. Being visually impaired, he could never tell who had called him whenever he missed a call. He would miss out on important updates, information and business opportunities. He called the Eyeway helpdesk recently to share his concern. He told us that his current phone was not a smart phone. We found out that he was completely unaware about facilities such as screen reader and talk back for mobile phones.  Our counsellor advised him about the benefits of these facilities and encouraged him to purchase an android phone that supports screen reader and talk back facilities. Following our guidance, Harish purchased a suitable phone. After his purchase, we gave him detailed guidance on how to use the phone. Now he’s using it expertly and without any trouble. He no longer has to depend on other people and has the power to take his business to greater heights by being more responsive. We would like to thank our counsellor, Alok Kumar of NAB Delhi for sharing this story.

Transforming lives

Another story from our helpdesk which shows the power of social inclusion and integration in transforming lives for the better is the story of Priyanka (name changed), whose story we had shared with you in the previous issue of Scoreboard. At that time, Priyanka’s visual impairment caused her a lot of mental distress. She was anxious in social situations and rarely left the four walls of her home to go outside. Our counsellors were always there to listen to her concerns, provide her practical advice and emotional support. With our encouragement, Priyanka enrolled in the District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) and completed a course on primary school teacher training. We recently followed-up with her regarding her experiences. She shared with us that she started speaking with people more freely and confidently. She made a lot of friends during student life. She successfully completed the course, now a transformed person. The icing on the cake is that Priyanka has now got a permanent government job as a teacher with the Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya in Nangloi (West Delhi). The young woman, who previously couldn’t talk to one person without getting nervous will now lead a classroom and inspire a generation of young people. Now that is one incredible transformation.  We would like to thank our Helpdesk Operations Manager, Binni Kumari for sharing this story.