Barrier free life with assistive technology

Forty-year-old Suresh Yemekar is a visually impaired person from Nanded city of Maharashtra state. After losing his vision at the age of fifteen due to Retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disorder of the eyes that causes gradual loss of vision, he had to drop out of school. His family was indifferent to him and did little to help him become independent. Despite being considered useless by the family, Suresh never gave up and believed he could still function like other sighted people. At the age of 22, he enrolled at an employment exchange and was selected for a government job as a telephone operator.

With limited vision and having received no rehabilitation or training, he struggled with his work. Determined to overcome these challenges, he adopted various techniques to cope at his workplace. However, he was still dependent on his colleagues to read office related documents or notices. Apart from office work he had difficulty in identifying currency or exploring new places and markets.
So when Suresh heard about the Eyeway toll-free number for the blind a couple of months ago, he called up immediately to know how he could use his smartphone to work and live more independently. The Eyeway counsellor learnt that he was already using a few apps which had not been of much help to him. Understanding his needs, the counsellor apprised him of various mobile apps like Kibo, that reads and translates printed/handwritten/digital text across 100+ languages in real-time via audio. He was also informed about accessible GPS apps that make it easier for blind people to move around on their own.

This information has proven to be life-changing for Suresh. He can now access all printed and handwritten documents without having to rely on his colleagues. He also shared that he now visits markets independently and uses apps to identify currency while shopping for his groceries. Very recently when his three-year-old son needed help with his homework, he was able to do so by taking a photograph of the textbook and then reading it with the help of screen reading software, something that he had not been able to do before.

These recent developments have inspired Suresh to organize a training programme in his city with the help of a local NGO to impart the same information to other visually impaired people. Suresh is grateful to Eyeway team for guiding him to lead a more independent and confident life.