Challenging ‘disabling’ attitudes

Twenty-four-year-old Chandrakanta Kumari suffered from gradual vision loss, becoming totally blind when she was pursuing Class 12. She still managed to finish her graduation. When she called Eyeway from her hometown, Gaya in Bihar, she sought help in finding a job.

She shared that her parents won’t allow her to move about on her own, as they believed that disability had left her dependent and helpless. But Chandrakanta refused to give in to the societal stereotype of being doubly disabled as a blind woman.

Even though she sat idle for three years, she didn’t stop scouting for solutions. She found Eyeway toll-free number and also heard of government job reservations for persons with vision impairment.

She inquired on ways to prepare for competitive exams so she could become eligible for employment. While our counselors told her about tools and techniques of accessing study material and filing job applications, the team also helped build her confidence to adjust and deliver in a mainstream work set-up. Eyeway guided her with demos to use screen reading software to access computers and several other apps that would make her independent.

A quick learner, Chandrakanta cracked the state exam, landing a clerical position with a bank in Begusarai. But the bank stalled in issuing her an offer letter. She suspected discrimination on grounds of her disability. Eyeway informed her of the provisions and guidelines laid down by the government for employment and reasonable accommodation in terms of accessibility at the workplace.

Armed with knowledge of her rights, Chandrakanta confronted the bank officials, explaining to them her abilities and ways in which she could deliver in her role, like any able-bodied person. When she demonstrated how she could work using computers and other assistive devices, the bank caved in.