Purposeful persistence

17-year old Sachin Porwal lives in Udaipur Rajasthan. After successfully completing his Class 10 examinations from a special school for the blind, he was keen to pursue higher education in an inclusive set-up. But when he applied to a renowned school in his state, he was denied admission on the grounds of his blindness. This however, was not the first time he was meted with such discriminatory behavior. When he started to lose his vision in Class 6 due to Retinitis Pigmentosa, he was forced to leave the school. On knowing that he was blind, other reputed mainstream schools also closed their doors on him. Despite being financially well-off, his parents had to enrol him in a blind school that had minimal resources.

Sachin’s parents even submitted a copy of RPWD Act 2016 to the school, which clearly states that children with disabilities have equal rights to education and that a quota must be reserved for such students by every school in the hope of admission of their son. However, this substantial document did little to convince the school administration. On the contrary, the school authorities hurled insulting questions at Sachin’s father like ‘’How was his son going to eat, change classrooms, cope with his sighted peers? Who would be responsible if something happened to him?

The school’s apprehension stemmed from their ignorance and weak intentions to enrol a blind boy in the school.

On knowing the issue, Eyeway apprised a Disability Rights Advocacy group in Udaipur on the matter and connected Sachin’s family with them. Further, a written complaint was filed and sent to the State Disability Commissioner who issued an order to the school stating that they cannot deny admission on the grounds of disability to any eligible student.

This had an immediate impact. Sachin was granted admission. On his part, he addressed the school’s apprehensions by demonstrating effective use of his assistive devices such as laptop enabled with screen reader that makes reading and writing notes easier, and a Daisy player (Digital Accessible Information System) that helps him in gathering knowledge.

Due to the pandemic all education is being imparted digitally. And Sachin’s equal participation in the online classes has brought about a subtle shift in the authorities’ mindset. His school principal often attends the sessions to ensure that teachers are adapting and catering to his needs.