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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A teacher’s fight for justice

30 year old Kishore (name changed) is 100% blind. But his disability has in no way impacted his passion for academics. A meritorious student, Kishore’s love for English literature, led him to complete his Bachelors, Masters and MPhil in the subject. He further pursued a B.Ed degree and secured a job of Primary Teacher in the Bhuribha Lallubhai Mehta School in Singarva, Ahmedabad.
In September 2016, he came across an advertisement for the post of a Trained Graduate Teacher (TTS) by Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS). Kishore promptly applied for the position and received a Call Letter for the written examination. He undertook the exam with the help of a scribe. The question paper was in multiple choice format but there were also some diagram questions that needed to be answered. Given his vision impairment, Kishore felt that his inability to accurately answer the diagram questions adversely impacted his performance in the exam. When the results were declared, he missed the cutoff for the interview by one mark.
Disheartened, he contacted the KVS authorities to report the issue and request for a reassessment of his diagram questions understanding his limitations to respond to the same. But his pleas fell on deaf ears.
That’s when Kishore decided to take strong action and contacted Eyeway for help. After examining all facts in the matter, our counselor put him in touch with legal experts to help him file a petition in the matter. A writ was filed in Gujarat High Court seeking relief for Kishore and the court passed an interim order stating that one vacancy be kept open for the TTS post until the next hearing.
Eyeway is in touch with Kishore and will continue to offer support until his matter is resolved and justice is duly served.

Banking on Eyeway

40 year old Rajesh (name changed), a class 4 employee of the Indian Navy is posted in Lonavala, Maharashtra. He has an account at the local State Bank of India and recently decided to apply for an ATM card. The bank officer rejected his request claiming that he could not issue an ATM to a 100% visually impaired person. Rajesh tried to argue his case but was unable to convince the Bank Officer to issue him a card.
Rajesh heard the Eyeway promo on the radio and immediately got in touch and shared with our counselor the issue he was facing at his bank. Our counselor confirmed that the bank could not deny him of this basic right. They informed him about the RBI guidelines that clearly state that the bank rules are same for both sighted and visually impaired.  They e-mailed to him the relevant circulars and guidelines and urged him to share the same with his Bank Officer.
He submitted the circulars to his local branch and was duly given his ATM card 8 days later. He now uses his card regularly at the talking ATMs. He plans to avail of other bank facilities in times to come. This time round he knows he has the information to make the bank officers aware of the rules.

Changing destinies

Rajesh (name changed) works as an advocacy coordinator at the Shalom-Care Centre for HIV patients. Through the course of his field work around slums of Delhi he met Meera (name changed).
Meera is a 19 year old visually impaired girl who comes from an economically marginalized background. She lives with her mother who is in no position to provide her with the specialized care and support she needs. Rajesh very much wished that Meera too, like other girls her age, could have access to a good education and healthy living conditions. He got in touch with Eyeway wanting to know what her options were. Our counselors immediately suggested that the best way forward was to get in touch with NAB-CBW (National Association for the Blind Centre for Blind Women). NAB-CBW caters to equipping visually impaired girls and women with the education, vocation and life skills they require to operate independently. Rajesh, on behalf of Meera, contacted NAB CBW. Meera has since successfully enrolled with NAB-CBW. Rajesh and Meera were extremely grateful to the Eyeway counselors for their timely support and information that will make a lasting impact in Meera’s life.

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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What govt needs to do to make Rights of Persons with Disability Act work

By Koshy Mathew

“A human being is a magnificent creation and the magnificence must reflect in a humane, magnanimous, and all-inclusive manner so that every individual tends to feel that she/he deserves space,” as observed by the Supreme Court in the Pranay Kumar Podder vs State of Tripura and Others case in 2017.

There is potential progress on the horizon as inclusion, integration and phrases that would define their essence are discussed zealously, but what portends horror is that it is still left to choice – that it is not the practice.

Policymakers say let’s change the rules, activists say let’s change the mindset, politicians say let’s treat “them” as “Divine”, courts say let’s be magnanimous and civil society says let’s earn favours from God – all this haggle is for accepting the “other”. Read more