Informing to empower

The Eyeway helpdesk received a call from the Coordinator at the Enabling Unit of Janaki Devi Memorial College enquiring about the possibility of organizing a training workshop for the visually impaired students enrolled at the college. Our helpline connected her with our network partner – Saksham. The interaction between the Enabling Unit and Saksham culminated   in a 2 day training workshop for the VI students. Around 12 students attended and were benefitted from the workshop. They were given training and exposed to making use of freeware like NVDA and other screen reading software. They were informed about various online knowledge resources that could aid them in their studies. Through the workshop they learnt of Sugamya Pustakalaya as well. The students and the Enabling Unit found the workshop to be exceedingly informative and have conveyed to our counselors that they look forward to putting into practice the knowledge and training that they received over the 2 days. We hope that more colleges reach out to us. Such collaborations which introduce technologies and resources will go a long way in empowering the visually impaired students for their benefit and access.

10 Tips to Improve the Visually Impaired’s Entire Flying Experience

By George Abraham

If you are visually impaired, traveling by air can be a harrowing and difficult experience. George Abraham gives some quick tips that will help ensure a smooth and safe journey the next time you’re flying.

A few years ago, a blind woman was offloaded at Mumbai airport, along with her two infants, while she was on her way to Goa. The airlines said they could not manage the disabled woman and her two kids onboard. A week later, a blind corporate executive was offloaded at Patna airport on similar grounds. In the recent past, there have been several instances where people with disabilities have run into problems with air travel. Due to this, there is a general apprehension amongst people with disability about traveling alone by air.

Here are 10 useful tips that can help such individuals experience trouble-free travel by air. Read more

Serving Blind Customers at a Restaurant?

Understand What it’s Like for Your Customers with Blindness

If you work in the restaurant or hospitality industry, you’ve seen it all; all kinds of people come through your doors and eat at your tables w9kozrk. You’ve seen impatient jerks, nice guys, great tippers, one-penny tip leaving insulters, and probably even your share of last minute “tables for fifty, please!” But just for a moment, let’s talk specifically about the customers that while you probably have seen them, they might not have seen you. I’m speaking about serving blind customers – or more appropriately: how you can serve your customers who are blind (and why that differentiation is important). Read more

Four tips for guiding blind walkers

By Maria Johnson

A long brisk walk on a sunny morning. That is something I love to do when I’m not teaching group fitness classes at the gym. I hit the hills alone with my thoughts to keep me company. Alone. All alone. Well, that’s how it used to be…

Walking is a great activity for many, even for those who are legally blind. I prefer a long power walk over a short run any day. Personally, I believe that you’re either a runner, or you’re not. I’m not. And that whole “runner’s high” thing… what is that?  I never, ever, felt it.  Perhaps it’s because I would silently chant “I hate this, I hate this…” with every mile I ran. I eventually stopped running and scaled back to power walking. If you’re blind, and you want to get outside, feel the sun on your face, and increase your activity level (not by running), you might want to pair up with a sighted guide and walk off your worries!! I understand that not everybody needs a guide, but if you do, just ask a friend, co-worker, or family member to accompany you.
Read more

Fabricating cures for Blindness

By Pramila Komanduri

Two Blind Brothers is the name of a clothing company in New York City which was started by two brothers, Bradford and Bryan Manning, who have had Stargardt’s disease since they were young children. Both brothers went on to participate in sports and complete their college education from the University of Virginia in spite of the disease which causes progressive loss of central vision in the eyes. Recognizing that sense of touch is important for the visually impaired, the Manning brothers developed the idea of creating clothing which feels good to the touch. All garments come with a metal tag which is embossed with the word ‘brother’ in Braille. As both brothers have full-time jobs outside of the clothing company they are able to donate all proceeds from it towards research for cures for blindness. Pramila Komanduri spoke to Bradford and Bryan, here are excerpts from the interview. Read more

Transformation through Technology

22 year old Pramod, from Pali, Rajasthan began losing his eyesight a few years ago. He heard about the Eyeway toll free number on the radio and got in touch with us to seek guidance and support. Pramod had completely stopped using computers because he was unaware of the many software and assistive technology that enabled accessibility.  He was unsure of how to take his life forward. Our counselors assured him that with the right training, technology and software he could resume computer and mobile usage and lead a normal life. Our counselors helped him purchase a smart phone and gave him instructions that would enable him to use it. Pramod, owing to his interest in technology, began exploring the world of assistive technology. He has been in constant touch with our counselors, reaching out whenever he is posed with a challenge or difficulty. Pramod  has also signed up for our whatsapp alert service and  regularly uses the Eyeway app. He is also a member of the Eyeway facebook page. Pramod has purchased a computer and hopes to build a career in computers and technology. He claims that the Eyeway Helpdesk has been a great guide and support that has enabled and empowered  him to be more independent and self-reliant.

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.