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.

Striving for self reliance

29 year old Palash belongs to Nashik. His blindness stopped him from pursuing his education beyond school. Over the years he did odd jobs around the house and helped his brother run a family grocery shop. When he found out about Eyeway he thought it might be interesting to call and find out if there were other options that he could explore as he really wished to do something of his own. Our counselor gave him information about how he could pick up his studies from where he left off.  However, Palash did not seem keen to resume studying after such a long gap. Our counselor then told him about other job options like starting a business. This caught Palash’s ears and he immediately expressed his desire to run his own business. In the past he had considered running an outfit that would grind flour and wheat. We informed him that the Social Welfare department has many schemes for loans and that he was eligible to apply for them. Following the Eyeway counselor’s advice, Palash got in touch with the Social Welfare office at his Gram Panchayat which in turn approved his loan. He is working steadily towards setting up his business. We wish him luck and hope that his story inspires others to move towards independent livelihoods.

An ear for music

21 year old Sameer has a passion for music. So great was his love that he discontinued his schooling after Class XI. He went on to pursue music and successfully graduated in the subject from a local music school. However, he felt that he was lacking something. Knowing and playing for himself or for smaller groups was not going to work. He needed to be part of something bigger. But what? Perhaps an orchestra? He decided to get some guidance from our counselor at Eyeway. His aptitude for music and the determination and dedication in the field made him a prime candidate for an orchestra. Our counselor found out about a local blind orchestra and gave him the details of Mr. Saurabh Kaushalkar, the man behind the orchestra. Sameer immediately got in touch with Saurabh and was invited for an audition. Sameer is now a member of the orchestra and on his way to pursue his childhood dream.

Catching up

In 2010 when Madan (name changed) completed his 12th standard, unlike his classmates, he did not apply for higher studies as he lost his eyesight. Unaware of the plethora of avenues that are available to visually impaired students, he was confined to his home. In April he got to know of Eyeway and decided to get in touch. He shared with the counselor his desire to learn Braille. He was keen to find a way to get his life back on track, blindness had held him back for too long. Our counselors advised him to begin by getting a Disability Certificate made in order to avail the various public sector schemes and programmes for persons with disabilities. They also shared with him the contact details of Lucknow based NGO Jayanti Bhartam, that provides education and rehabilitation to adult persons with disabilities, and told him that they would be in a position to guide him and provide him with the necessary skills and knowledge for him to get his life back on track and be able to study and work in the future.

Accepting change

Every month we get many calls regarding usage of smart phones. While younger folks seem to be quick to learn and master this new technology, the older ones seem intimidated by it and tend to, for the part avoid it.. Faisal (name changed) from Govindpuri in Delhi, an employee of the Indian Bank was recently posted to the Digital Banking department at his bank. This involved working with Internet banking, ATM related queries and know-how of the bank’s android app. In the past he was reluctant to switch to a smart phone but now with his new role it became necessary for him to purchase an android phone. He got in touch with Eyeway where our counselor shared with him information on the available phones, their accessibility features and guided him to buy a phone. In a series of telephonic as well as face to face interactions, our counselors imparted basic training on how to operate his new android phone. Faisal now seems to be quite comfortable and finds it quite useful.

An example in good parenting

Vivek (name changed) is a working professional living in Mumbai. He has a 2 year old son who is blind. Unlike many parents of disabled children, Vivek doesn’t see his son’s blindness in a negative light. But he is concerned about the child’s education and inclusion into the mainstream. Vivek wants to provide a good education to his son, so that he feels no less or any different from a sighted child. Vivek explored the internet to seek necessary information on blindness for over 8 months but he didn’t really find answers to his queries until he stumbled upon the Eyeway website. When he called the Eyeway Helpdesk, our counselor reassured Vivek, listing out myriad possibilities for his son to lead a fulfilling life despite blindness. The counselor apprised Vivek of government schemes and provisions, online and offline resources including local NGOs that could prove useful for his son. The counselor also shared some tips on parenting a blind child. Eyeway counselor emphasized on the need to get a disability certificate for the child and also shared the relevant hospital details to process the same. In a follow up call made by our counselor, we learnt that Vivek had contacted the hospital for the disability certificate. He also visited Xavier’s Resource Center for the Visually Challenged (XRCVC), a Mumbai based NGO working for education of the blind. XRCVC assured Vivek of their support and suggested to enrol the child in a mainstream school. Vivek was grateful to the Eyeway Helpdesk for attending to his concerns patiently and empathetically.

Timely intervention

Satinder (name changed), a resident of Sangrur, Punjab is 24 years old and 100% blind. He has been working as a clerk in the Punjab Government’s Education department since September 2016. A few months into the job, Satinder learned that another visually impaired person working in the same department and on the same post was being paid more than him. He raised this issue with the management but his complaint went unheeded. He continued to receive a lesser salary, so he decided to seek help from Eyeway. After he reported the matter to our counselor in January 2017, he was apprised of his legal rights to claim a higher salary. Our counselor shared a copy of the official circular stating the minimum wages due to him. Satinder shared the same circular with the respective authorities in his department, asking for a correction in his salary. The department finally agreed and Satinder started receiving his full dues from March 2017. This was a clear case of discrimination on account of his blindness. Awareness of the relevant scheme enabled him to fight for his right to receive the stipulated salary on a timely basis. Satinder was very thankful to Eyeway for the information, support and courage they provided him to fight for his rights.

Finding connections

Roshan (name changed) lives in Karnataka and he is blind. He has been trying hard to secure an electricity connection for some time now. Despite several visits to the Panchayat office, Roshan could not get all necessary information on the same. That’s when he decided to get in touch with the Eyeway Helpdesk. Our counsellors assisted him with the application process under the reservation quota, informed him of the Rs.1000 service charge from which he was exempt and gave him the confidence to approach the Panchyat office. Roshan approached their office again with his application correctly filled out. This time they accepted his application. Lack of awareness of schemes, rules and guidelines both on the part of a visually impaired person and on the part of authorities is a major challenge that needs to be overcome. While drafting rules to empower the disabled is the first step taken by the government, implementation and a change of mindset are critical for a visible change to follow the schematic changes being put in place to impact the lives of visually impaired people.

A passion for music

16 year old Rohit (name changed) called the Eyeway Helpdesk hoping that he could receive some guidance on pursuing his passion for music. Rohit shared with the counselor his dream to become a musician except he didn’t know how to turn that dream into reality. Initially, Rohit was reluctant to share information about himself but over a few conversations our counselors learnt that he had not been attending school. He only wanted to play music and was not interested in any of the other subjects that were taught at school. Our counselors made it a point to convey to him the importance of education and persuaded him to go back to school. They found a Government School in Bhopal where along with other subjects he could also learn music. He is now trying to follow the advice and suggestions made to him by our Helpdesk.

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.