Coping with late blindness and learning about provisions for disabled

45 year old Dhiraj Tendulkar (name changed) was born in Nagpur. He has a big family including his parents, four sisters and a brother. Dhiraj earned his MSc Math degree after completing his education in regular school and college in Nagpur. In 1996 he secured a job under the ST quota in the Defence Standardization Cell in Pune. He was appointed as a Junior Technical Officer. Dhiraj’s parents didn’t want to leave Nagpur and relocate to Pune so they stayed behind with his brother. But since the income from his brother’s job as a post office agent was not enough to support the family, Dhiraj took the onus of financially looking after his parents. In 2001, he was transferred to Ahmednagar as part of a routine exercise. Except for the few challenges of moving from one city to the other, Dhiraj adjusted well into his job.

It was in 2005 that he faced a major challenge in life. His eye sight began to deteriorate, affecting his ability to perform his job. On consulting with doctors, Dhiraj was diagnosed with Retina Pigmentosa, where gradual reduction of vision leads to complete blindness. Grappling with sudden blindness and inability to perform well, one day Dhiraj came across a news item in Maharashtra daily, Sakal, which talked about blind people operating computers. On contacting the news reporter of the particular story, Dhiraj learned about Eyeway. Seeing this as a ray of hope, he instantly called the Eyeway Helpdesk. He shared his challenges and sought help in coping with work as a blind person. Eyeway counselor informed him about how he could learn computers to help him become independent and efficient at work. Dhiraj underwent the computer training using screen reading software. We also advised him to get a Disability Certificate and submit it to his employer so he could avail benefits for person with disability. As a result, Dhiraj’s employer not only changed his profile to a computer based job but also provided him with the required assistive devices to perform his job well. Dhiraj regained his confidence with a consistent annual performance rating 9 out of 10.

But recently, he was faced with a new difficulty with an order of routine transfer from Ahmednagar to Pune. After having settled well into Ahmednagar for all these years and given his disability, Dhiraj didn’t want to relocate to Pune. He contacted Eyeway yet again seeking advice and help on how to stop his transfer. Our counselor shared with him the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) guidelines which clearly state that persons with disabilities may be exempted from rotational transfer. Dhiraj submitted the copy of the specific order to his employer, following which his transfer was stopped.

Considering that Dhiraj not only provides for his own family but also his parents, it was critical that he retain his job. With Eyeway’s advice for training he learnt to cope with his disability without affecting his ability to perform at work. Also the information on provisions for the disabled helped him claim his legal rights as a blind employee.