Combating illiteracy and blindness

What would you do if you are less educated and late blind?

Lack of education is believed to be the root causes of poverty and obliviousness. 34-year -old Shiva Nand Naudiyal had to discontinue his education after 12th due to some family issues. Since then, he has been working in several construction companies as a storekeeper for the past 12 years. Born and brought up in Indore, his mother is a homemaker and his father is working in the private sector. He is married and has no children.

Shiva Nand became visually impaired in March 2013. He was suffering from an infection in both the kidneys. He was undertaking treatment at a hospital in Indore. However, his health condition failed to improve. Due to certain medicinal reactions, both his eyes got damaged and he gradually started to lose his vision. His family brought him to All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi for further treatment.

His mother donated her kidney for the transplant and his operation turned out to be successful. But since his vision was deteriorating, in 2016, Shiva went to Shroff Eye Hospital in Darayaganj to get a cornea transplant for his right eye. Unfortunately, the procedure was unsuccessful and he lost 80% of his vision. Shiva wasted two years of his life sitting idle as he didn’t know how to proceed further given his vision loss. He was unaware of any possibilities to continue living his life independently despite his impairment. To top it all, he didn’t fulfill most of the criteria for job applications as he was uneducated and was not well-equipped with technology. Like most people with visual impairment, Shiva too suffered more from a lack of proper information and guidance on how to lead a life with blindness.

While he was trying to seek medical resolution for his condition, Shroff Eye Hospital guided him about National Association for the Blind (NAB) in R.K Puram. Finally, in March 2018, Shiva Nand interacted with the Eyeway counsellor at NAB when he visited the center. Shiva was keen on learning Braille as he thought ‘if a person needs to pursue life with blindness, he has to learn braille”. Most people tend to equate blind people’s existence with Braille. But given the pace at which technology is being developed today, there are various other assistive solutions available in the market to enable a visually impaired person to coexist well in the mainstream. Our counsellors apprised Shiva of the numerous opportunities for learning beyond braille and suggested him to enroll in computer training. The counselors demonstrated and taught him how to use an Android mobile using the inbuilt talkback application.

Currently, Shiva Nand is undergoing computer training at NAB. He feels that he is again living his life as a sighted person and connecting with all his friends via social networking sites. The Helpdesk counsellors have been keeping him up to date with job opportunities and also exploring other education prospects possible. However, it is a serious concern to see that there aren’t too many institutions apart from a few which offer distance-learning and vocational courses which can provide formal education to people like Shiva and many more as they struggle to garner knowledge and acceptance.