Making Currency Accessible to the Blind

By Payal Jethra

A ten year old shares with his visually impaired mother, his ideas on how to make Indian currency accessible to persons with blindness.

“That was a 200 not 20 rupee note we handed to the man at the provisional store,” says the ten year old.” As he sat sipping chocolate milk after their return from the grocery store that Saturday evening. “Are you sure about that, Sweetheart?” inquired his mother, “There were two two-hundred rupee notes in my wallet this morning, I am positive. At the grocery store I swiped my debit card and I’m always aware of bank notes that I carry along, at least I have been pretty sure of myself up until these newly introduced notes have made cash transactions perplexing for me.” said Payal as she picked up her coffee to join her ten year old for an evening snack by the window. The duo had shopped for groceries and stopped at a provisional store outside the store to pick up a 10 rupee dairy milk chocolate for each one of them. That would have amounted to 20 rupees, but Payal ended up paying 200.

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The Inspiring and Astounding Work of Visually Impaired Indian Photographers

By Anoushka Mathews

Visually impaired people from India are exploring a visual art form like photography. Here’s to the techniques that guide them and the passion that motivates them.

So many in our country are shocked at the mention of photography by the blind, they cannot seem to wrap their head around the concept. Why and how would a blind person take a photograph?  Like most photographers, persons with blindness too have been drawn to photography out of a curiosity to explore the world through images.

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Getting back on track

Being diagnosed with vision impairment early on in life is a challenging affair. This challenge is compounded when students, unaware of the plethora of opportunities available, drop out of school. The belief that life stops after blindness continues to persist despite so many visually impaired persons excelling in a variety of fields.
23 year old Piyush (name changed) a resident of Motihari Bihar, discontinued schooling after Class 8 due to his vision impairment. For many years he sat at home, engrossing himself playing the Tabla and Harmonium.
However, he desired to get his life back on track by finishing school and securing a job. Desperate for guidance, he called the Eyeway Helpdesk. Our counselors informed him about the vocational and mobility training programmes for the blind run at various institutions. The Helpdesk put him in touch with the Blind Relief Association, Delhi as well as the National Institute for Visually Handicapped (NIVH), Dehradun. They also suggested that he enroll in an open school.
Piyush not only enrolled himself in a vocational training program at the Blind Relief Association, Delhi but also completed his class 10th Board Exams though CBSE (correspondence) this June. Having expressed an interest in pursuing music, our Helpdesk has been working hard to find him a good teacher.
Piyush aspires to teach music at the University level some day. We are certain that if he continues to doggedly chase his dream with grit and determination he will surely succeed. Our counselors have assured him that they are there to guide and assist him whenever he is in need of any kind of information from the world of vision impairment.

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.

Accessible Audio Books for Blind and Visually Impaired

By Sonali Jain, Saksham

Mass production of accessible books can eradicate the book famine faced by persons with blindness or other print disabilities.

Books are considered a person’s best companion. It is said that “When you open a book, you open a new world”. Books provide us with an endless pool of knowledge and information and allow a person to improve his / her understanding by exposing one to new things, besides being an invaluable source of entertainment.

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Digital India: A boon for the visually impaired

By Shruti Pushkarna

Digital India is a transformational idea that needs to be exploited beyond its present scope to bring persons with blindness and visual impairment into the mainstream.

Digital Literacy, Digital Divide, Digital Inclusion. These terms are increasingly becoming a part of our conversational vocabulary, thanks to Prime Minister Modi’s flagship campaign, Digital India.

Unlike the myriad schemes announced by previous ruling governments, Digital India is a powerful idea. It’s a transformative campaign, especially so from a blind citizen’s perspective.

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