Eyeway Stories

Becoming self-reliant

Twenty-six-year-old Arti Pawar was born blind to a low-income family in a village near Satara, Maharashtra. Her three other siblings are sighted. Arti’s parents had no knowledge on how to raise a child with blindness. They didn’t know if their daughter could go to a school, study, get a job or ever become independent.

Due to this lack of awareness, Arti stayed confined to her home for several years. While other kids her age and her siblings went to school, she stayed home until she was 10 years old. It was after a social worker came in touch with the family, that they learned about a special school for the blind. Her parents were counselled to send their daughter to a residential special school in Pune.

Arti studied till Class X in this school where knowledge was imparted using Braille script. She however returned to her home as she was unaware of possibilities of higher education in the city and also underconfident to stay on her own.

She pursued her higher education including graduation from a regular University in Satara where her brother and sisters were studying. This way she could use their support in commuting to the college and back. They also helped read and record her notes so she could keep up with her class. Her younger sister accompanied as a scribe so Arti could take her exams.

She completed her education, but she was severely dependent on her family. She could not move out alone, she did not have any technical skills to use devices like phone and computer. She wanted to be independent and secure a job but lacked the skills.

So, she reached out to the Eyeway Helpdesk with her aspirations. The counselor not only apprised her of government and private sector job opportunities.

Citing his own example, the visually impaired Eyeway counselor emphasized on the need for fluency in communication and freedom of mobility. Arti was advised to learn computer and mobility skills at a residential vocational training center in Pune.

When she discovered how there are thousands of visually impaired people like her, leading independent lives, away from home, working and pursuing other interests, she agreed to enroll for the course.

In just one month since her training began, there is a sudden boost in Arti’s confidence. The feeble voice with which she called the Helpdesk has been replaced by a curious and optimistic one.

The counselor also reached out to some individuals to help Arti get a smartphone so she can access information and navigate using various accessible mobile applications on the device.

Arti is in the process of discovering how she too can become self-reliant, like her siblings.

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