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.

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.

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.