Regaining access and confidence

Forty-three-year-old Rajendra Dhuratakar is a resident of Akola district in Maharashtra. When he was in Class IV, he was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, an eye condition that results in gradual sight loss. Though the family went in shock, Rajendra continued to study hard and topped his school. He later graduated with a degree in Agriculture but due to significant vision deterioration, he had to give up on further studies.

Knowing little about rehabilitation training or skilling programs for visually impaired people, Rajendra began pursuing government jobs under reserved quota for persons with disabilities (PwDs). He switched several jobs because he struggled to perform the tasks in the absence of accessible tools or environment. He worked in the Maharashtra State Seeds Corporation, as a Gram Sevak, as a Junior Research Assistant and so on.

A lot of government officials and departments continue to be ill informed about providing reasonable accommodation to persons with vision impairment, which can help them perform their roles effectively. This is when the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (2016) clearly mandates provision of accessible tools or assistance to make the physical and digital environment accessible for PwDs.

Rajendra was always under pressure of losing his job, fearing that his low productivity would become an issue with his peers and superiors. So, he tried harder than everyone else, taking sighted assistance both inside and outside the office.

Luckily in his latest job in Animal Department and Farming, a senior recognized Rajendra’s challenge and moved him to a more suited role of guiding farmers via phone and in-person visits. The role involved disseminating information and maintaining a daily record of callers or visitors. For this, he took help from his wife and daughter every day, to help him write and record data.

When he sought help from the Eyeway Helpdesk, our counselor recommended the use of computers and Microsoft Office functions to increase efficiency. At first, Rajendra was a bit hesitant, but through follow up calls, the counselor convinced him stating how much time he could save, apart from gaining the ability to work independently.

Taking step by step guidance from the Eyeway team, Rajendra downloaded a screen reading software on his old computer and learnt the basics of MS Word and Excel from the counselor. He was also suggested to join online workshop for advanced computer training.

Today, Rajendra can seamlessly perform his job using a computer, independently maintaining data records, writing letters, and reading hard copies with the help of some smartphone accessible applications.