Mamta Chandiramani

It’s encouraging to see how individual efforts armed with right knowledge can help bring a wider change.
In April 2013 Mamta Chandiramani emailed the Eyeway Helpdesk looking for support to find a suitable writer for an exam she was taking five days later. She works with a branch of State Bank of India (SBI) in Mumbai and was sitting the internal promotional exams.

Being blind, Mamta needed a writer to take her exam, which SBI asked her to arrange herself. Furthermore SBI also prescribed the criteria for selecting a writer, stating the person could not be a graduate and also should not have scored more than 60% marks in their last exam. The person also needed to prove he/she meets the eligibility conditions by submitting copies of documents at the time of the examination.

Finding a scribe has always been difficult for blind/low-vision candidates, they have to find someone who can read/write their subjects, meet the criteria, and is available and willing to help.

From Mamta’s email it was clear that SBI is not aware of the new uniform examination guidelines for people with blindness/low-vision pronounced by the Government of India on 26 February 2013. The new guidelines mandated authorities across India to bring a paradigm shift in how examinations are conducted for people with blindness/low-vision and other disabilities. The new guidelines state that the focus should be on competency of the writer rather than laying down any eligibility conditions. This helps ensure a level playing field for visually impaired examinees, rather than complicating matters.

We apprised Mamta of the new rules and suggested she approach her employer to revise their rules accordingly.

She approached her branch head with the new information. He immediately forwarded the request internally to the concerned HR officials. Almost in a day’s time, Mamta got a call and written confirmation that SBI functionaries in her region had changed the promotional examination rules. She was allowed to take along anyone as a writer irrespective of age, education, marks scored etc, and SBI would appropriately invigilate.

Though the change didn’t help the few other visually impaired people in SBI across India who took this promotional exam this time around, it was observed that SBI immediately changed the writer selection criteria on their website for the officer recruitment exams held across India on 28 April 2013.