Accepting change in an ever-changing world

By Shruti Pushkarna

When I was studying journalism, we were made to read three to four newspapers everyday as part of acquiring editorial skills. As a young girl in my early twenties, I would go from one class to another, catching up on the printed word in between breaks. It was almost romantic, the idea of print that is. One aspired to have a ‘byline’ in the reputed dailies.

But by the time I graduated, a lot had changed. The fascination with print was slowly replaced with 24×7 television news. Not that TV news didn’t exist earlier, but right at the time when I was applying for jobs, several new players entered the market.

A large part of my initial career was spent in television newsrooms. And then some years later, another shift happened, with digital journalism as the latest entrant in news media. Read more

Changing the Discourse on Disability

By Shruti Pushkarna

It’s 2020. As we cheer for new beginnings, it’s also time to reminisce on the years gone by.

The last decade witnessed some significant changes in how we look at ‘disability’. When I was still in my twenties (now don’t try to guess my age!), there was hardly any mention of terms like ‘access’ or ‘inclusion’. In fact, the most commonly used term for disabled people was ‘handicapped’.

Fortunately, we have seen a gradual shift come about in the past few years. Thanks to government campaigns and the latest Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, newer terms have been added to the general media usage when it comes to disability-related issues.

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Disabiilty: What Must Our Media Do

By Shruti Pushkarna

Before I started writing this piece, I casually googled ‘media and disability’. Interestingly, most results were pertaining to the role of the media, portrayal of disability, some academic papers on the subject and so on. Well, that’s typically what comes to mind when you throw these two words together at anyone.

Having crossed over to the disability sector from journalism, I have witnessed several debates (both in official and informal settings) where disability experts, people with acquired disability, scholars and mediapersons battle with each other, presenting their views on the subject.

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Not just a ramp, online banking needs to be accessible too

By George Abraham

I recall, once on my way back from work, my driver stopped at a petrol pump to refuel the car. When it was time to pay, I was handed a card swipe machine with a touch screen to complete the transaction. Being a blind user, I wondered how I was expected to key in my password without a screen reading software installed in the machine. The sales representative suggested that I let my driver put in the confidential code, which I refused and insisted for a machine with a keypad. Reluctantly, the representative got me a machine with a keypad. On any keypad or dial pad, the digit 5 is highlighted with a dotted tactile impression which helps blind people orient and locate other numbers around to press the desired ones.

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Can Sports Broadcasters not Overlook Blind Cricket Fans?

By George Abraham

I have been following Indian cricket since 1969. I debuted as a cricket fan during the India vs New Zealand series when the Graham Dowling-led side locked horns with Tiger Pataudi and his team. India won the first Test at Mumbai, New Zealand levelled the score at Nagpur while the third Test at Hyderabad was drawn thanks to rain. Next, the Indian cricket fan was treated to a five Test feast when Bill Lawry’s Australian team visited India. Every match was covered on radio, every ball was described in detail, updated scorecards were read out at regular intervals. Listening to the radio commentary was accelerating and we, the listeners, were literally made to feel that we were present pitch-side. As a visually impaired youngster, I was totally bowled over by the sport, never missed a match. Commentators like Anant Setalvad, Devraj Puri, Dicky Rutnagur, Balu Alaganan literally became the eyes of millions of listeners across the nation. During a Test match, I, like many others, would be carrying a transistor radio wherever I went. Conversations at street corners, coffee houses and social events would be about cricket.

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ICC World Cup and challenges for fans with visual disabilities

By George Abraham

As cricket has a huge following among the people with visual disabilities in the country, it’s time to take some measures.

The long awaited 2019 Cricket World Cup has arrived. The Indians begin their campaign against South Africa on June 5 at The Rose Bowl, Southampton. As far as India is concerned, the World Cup is the biggest sporting event. Now that the Lok Sabha Election results have been announced, the focus of the nation will shift to cricket for the next month or so. Every Indian cricket fan will be closely following the fortunes of Kohli and his men in blue. The persisting question on everyone’s mind is whether this Indian team can repeat what Kapil Dev’s team achieved 36 years ago.

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In conversation with George Abraham on ‘inclusive education’

George Abraham – blind visionary, belter of boundaries and veteran of the impossible.

Just recently, the Supreme Court of India in the ongoing case of Rajneesh Kumar Pandey v. Union of India, made an observation: “It is impossible to think that the children who are disabled or suffer from any kind of disability or who are mentally challenged can be included in the mainstream schools for getting an education.” In an effort towards unwrapping stories of successes of the mainstream education system, here’s a conversation with one of the glowing examples of mainstreaming.

Making Currency Accessible to the Blind

By Payal Jethra

A ten year old shares with his visually impaired mother, his ideas on how to make Indian currency accessible to persons with blindness.

“That was a 200 not 20 rupee note we handed to the man at the provisional store,” says the ten year old.” As he sat sipping chocolate milk after their return from the grocery store that Saturday evening. “Are you sure about that, Sweetheart?” inquired his mother, “There were two two-hundred rupee notes in my wallet this morning, I am positive. At the grocery store I swiped my debit card and I’m always aware of bank notes that I carry along, at least I have been pretty sure of myself up until these newly introduced notes have made cash transactions perplexing for me.” said Payal as she picked up her coffee to join her ten year old for an evening snack by the window. The duo had shopped for groceries and stopped at a provisional store outside the store to pick up a 10 rupee dairy milk chocolate for each one of them. That would have amounted to 20 rupees, but Payal ended up paying 200.

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