Finding the path to become independent

The discrimination against blind and visually impaired children starts right from their homes. Considered of no value by their parents, they are hardly invested into. And attention and preference is often given to their sighted siblings.

Growing up 22-year-old Bheem suffered the same fate. Born into a financially disadvantaged family in Bihar, he lost his vision while studying in Class 8, forcing him to drop out of school. His parents were not as supportive and only provided for his basic daily needs. This indifference towards Bheem pushed him to explore employment opportunities to fend for himself at an early age. But with no education and no vision, he failed at finding an appropriate job for himself. So when he heard about the Eyeway Helpdesk two years ago, he immediately called the toll-free number seeking information on job vacancies in his state.

Aware of the challenges faced by a visually impaired person and understanding his need for employment, the Eyeway counsellor suggested Bheem to enrol for Class 10 through open school. Explaining the importance of education for visually impaired people, he was apprised of requirements of the job market. He was given various study centre options in his state to aid him in preparing for the exam. Paying heed to the counsellor’s advice, he successfully completed his Class 10.

Bheem wanted to study further so securing a job would become easier. He wanted to know if it was compulsory to take up English as a subject in Class 12. The Eyeway counsellor sensed the apprehension in his voice and encouraged Bheem to speak about it. We then learned that appearing for his Class 10 board examination, he had found it difficult to find a scribe for English subject. Despite the scribe guidelines issued by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE) which state that students with visual impairment can take a scribe of any age or qualification, many schools and colleges in rural areas still do not adhere to these rules and only allow a scribe of a lower grade, forcing children like Bheem to compromise on their education. Uncomfortable with the English language, his scribe had failed at doing a good job barely managing to pass the subject with grace marks.

Not wanting to go through the same experience, Bheem had made up his mind to give up English as a subject entirely. It was after much assurance by the counsellor that he agreed to pursue his Class 12 with the subject. The counsellor also stated the essential requirements of English language in learning computers and acquiring a decent job. He was further encouraged to enrol for online English classes offered by an organization free of cost in Mumbai.

The Eyeway intervention has helped Bheem pursue his Class 12 and work on his English speaking skills. We hope he finds a suitable employment opportunity soon.