Raising Awareness…
Here are some stories about the people we have helped, which explains the impact of our work and why we feel it is so important.

The value of information

47 year old Deepchand (name changed) a resident of Dungarpur in Rajasthan teaches at a local Senior Secondary school. He got in touch with the Eyeway Helpdesk when he was denied a home loan from the Bank of Baroda on account of his blindness. Our counselor informed him of the RBI and IBA guidelines which clearly state that banks cannot deny facilities on the basis of blindness. The Helpdesk also emailed the RBI circular to him. Deepchand returned to the bank equipped with  the guidelines. The bank had no choice but to issue him a home loan and apologize for the inconvenience they had caused. Every month we get similar queries of blind and visually impaired persons being denied accounts, loans, chequebooks etc. Despite many nationalized banks having taken initiatives to enable visually impaired and blind persons to access facilities with ease, many of their employees continue to operate with age old biases and prejudice. This needs to change. Banks need to ensure that their rules and guidelines are known to all their employees and translate into effective action and sensitized attitudes.

Commitment to change

Mr. Mijaz (name changed) works at a Nationalized bank as a probationary officer and lives in Govindpuri, Delhi. He’d been using the Nokia E5 phone for many years and thought that it might be a good idea to switch to an android phone. He purchased an android phone but was unable to operate or access it. He got in touch with the Eyeway helpdesk enquiring whether there were any training programs that would help him understand smartphone use. Most training programs focus on computer skills and software with mobile usage tutorials mostly on YouTube. However, our Eyeway counselors telephonically guided him through the process of using an android phone. They walked him through navigation on the phone, familiarized him with the numerous existing features, and accessibility options as well talkback feature. Mr.Mijaz called us back to tell us that he was now comfortable with the smartphone and was using Google maps, uber, WhatsApp and all kinds of apps. He is now able to use his Smartphone efficiently. Mr. Mijaz found the training useful and was thankful to Eyeway for attending to his need in a simple and time-efficient manner.

Challenging ignorance

Hitesh (name changed) resides in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh with his wife and young daughter. His 4 year old daughter was old enough to be enrolled in a nursery school. He was worried that his blindness could prove to be a hindrance in educating her. Since Hitesh often makes queries at the Eyeway helpdesk, he decided to reach out to the Eyeway toll free helpline once again.  Our counselor’s assured him that blindness surely could not stop him from ensuring that his daughter gets the best education. They shared with him examples of many parents, who were blind, whose children went to school, and were doing well. The counselors also shared with him online resources and books that would inform him how to be a part of his child’s schooling life. They also asked him to watch the episode of Nazar ya Nazariya on parenting. He was very thankful to Eyeway for relieving his anxiety. He has now enrolled his daughter in nursery school and continues to be in touch with our helpdesk for ongoing support.

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.

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.

Access to information

Venkatesh (name changed) recently got in touch with the Eyeway Helpdesk to share his concerns about his education. During his interaction he shared that he has 40% visual impairment.   He is currently pursuing B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering and presently is in the fifth semester. As per the doctor’s suggestion he is able to perform field work but cannot engage in doing computer work. He also shared that he doesn’t feel comfortable to   operate the computer.  Our counselor Devashish Bhargav suggested he find out more details about his eye condition whether it is be degenerative or stable. This information would then help Venkatesh identify the course of action for future.  We also provided him information about screen reader like JAWS and NVDA. We put him in touch with EnAble India for computer training. To help Venkatesh gain a broader understanding of possibilities with regards to career options, Devashish recommended he view our TV Series ‘Nazar Ya Nazariya’ on our YouTube Channel and further informed him about the kind of opportunities that are available both in the government and corporate sector.

Overcoming self-doubt

Harish Kumar (name changed) had first contacted the Eyeway Helpdesk in 2013.  Due to his gradual loss of vision he had become disillusioned and wanted to discontinue his studies post his class 10th examination three years ago. Our counselor advised him to complete his education and at the same time shared inspirational stories of visually impaired people who have achieved despite their disability. Encouraged by our guidance Harish was thus motivated and has completed his class 12th successfully since then. This October he again reached out to the Helpdesk seeking information on scholarship schemes. He informed us that he is currently pursuing B.Ed in Dr. Shakunthala University. This has proved to be a milestone in his life, since three years ago he was disillusioned and today he is an inspiration to many to not give up hope and to strive better generic levitra online cheap.

Technology to the rescue

Priya, a 32 year old housewife and mother of three, began losing her eyesight a few years ago. She was diagnosed with low vision which over time only became worse. She got in touch with our helpdesk seeking information on how she could cope with this loss of sight. Our counselors provided her with information on the available technologies and resources that would enable her to adapt to her eye condition. She was told about screen reader and other apps that would ensure that she could continue using her laptop and mobile phone. She was thankful to our counselors for providing her this information as she was completely unaware about these available technologies and resources. She was keen to resume her everyday tasks and get back to life. We also guided her to the Eyeway website where she would have access to additional information about living life with blindness.