A meaningful example of how accessible technology can change lives has emerged from our own helpdesk recently. Harish (name changed), a 44 year old man from Delhi had been dependent on others for a long time to manage his small business. He runs a momos shop in Delhi and uses his mobile phone to keep in touch with his ingredients suppliers, customers, family and friends. Being visually impaired, he could never tell who had called him whenever he missed a call. He would miss out on important updates, information and business opportunities. He called the Eyeway helpdesk recently to share his concern. He told us that his current phone was not a smart phone. We found out that he was completely unaware about facilities such as screen reader and talk back for mobile phones. Our counsellor advised him about the benefits of these facilities and encouraged him to purchase an android phone that supports screen reader and talk back facilities. Following our guidance, Harish purchased a suitable phone. After his purchase, we gave him detailed guidance on how to use the phone. Now he’s using it expertly and without any trouble. He no longer has to depend on other people and has the power to take his business to greater heights by being more responsive. We would like to thank our counsellor, Alok Kumar of NAB Delhi for sharing this story.
Here are some stories about the people we have helped, which explains the impact of our work and why we feel it is so important.
Another story from our helpdesk which shows the power of social inclusion and integration in transforming lives for the better is the story of Priyanka (name changed), whose story we had shared with you in the previous issue of Scoreboard. At that time, Priyanka’s visual impairment caused her a lot of mental distress. She was anxious in social situations and rarely left the four walls of her home to go outside. Our counsellors were always there to listen to her concerns, provide her practical advice and emotional support. With our encouragement, Priyanka enrolled in the District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) and completed a course on primary school teacher training. We recently followed-up with her regarding her experiences. She shared with us that she started speaking with people more freely and confidently. She made a lot of friends during student life. She successfully completed the course, now a transformed person. The icing on the cake is that Priyanka has now got a permanent government job as a teacher with the Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya in Nangloi (West Delhi). The young woman, who previously couldn’t talk to one person without getting nervous will now lead a classroom and inspire a generation of young people. Now that is one incredible transformation. We would like to thank our Helpdesk Operations Manager, Binni Kumari for sharing this story.
Sukumar (name changed), a student of class 11 from Tumkur, Karnataka with 100 percent blindness contacted the Eyeway helpdesk in August, 2016. He informed our counsellor that he was facing difficulties with his studies as he did not have books on the subjects of History, Economics, Political Science and Sociology in an accessible format. He needed them in order to successfully prepare for his class 11 mid-term examinations. We connected him to Sahana Charitable Trust, an NGO which has a repository of accessible resources for students. He was able to get all the books that he needed from them. With the required academic support available, he is now able to do justice to his exam preparation.
Gauri (name changed), a resident of Shahdara, Delhi first got in touch with us in 2011. At that time, she was appearing for class 10th exams through National Institute of Open Learning’s (NIOS). She told us that she wanted to do a computer training programme. With the help of our step-by-step guidance, she finally completed a computer training programme from National Association for the Blind (NAB), R.K. Puram in 2015.
Gauri latest connect with us was in July, 2016. She informed us that she was pursuing a vocational course from NAB, Hauz Khas. Her course components include computers, handicrafts, music and theatre. She shared that she had developed a more independent personality and was comfortable moving around independently, outside the home. Her aspiration is to be financially independent before getting married, after she completes the vocational course. Gauri expressed that it was the awareness provided to her by the Eyeway helpdesk that motivated her to forge ahead in life.
Saba Rizvi comes from a conservative family in Lucknow, UP. Neither Saba, nor anyone in her family knew about the facilities and the opportunities available for the blind to study, so she never went to school and had always thought that blind people like her could only be home-bound throughout their lives. Then after 34 years, she almost instantly got addicted to the then new radio show Eyeway – Yeh Hai Roshni Ka Karawan (Caravan of Light). Listening to the show each week, she found herself aspiring to accomplish things in her life just like the inspiring lives of blind people interviewed on the radio, including Sudha Patel, the first blind lady sarpanch (elected head) of her village, and Nafisa Buhariwalla, a banker. Recently, Saba learned to read Braille and has been enrolled for home study. She is now getting ready to appear for class 10 exams.
Anjina Bhat of Noida in UP is mother to Arush, a 3-year-old boy who is nearly blind because of retinal degeneration. Anjina has considered Score Foundation a valuable knowledge and motivational resource in bringing up her son. The parenting section of the Eyeway Website www.eyeway.org for instance, provides her information in developing Arush’s skills to become independent. Score Foundation significantly facilitated Arush’s inclusion in a mainstream playschool by suggesting multi-sensory activities which both Arush and the other children enjoy. Score continued to help Anjina by getting Arush admitted to the Delhi Public School where he continues to get mainstream education today.
Mayank Sharma started to lose his eyesight when he was in class 3 in a regular school in Delhi. Mayank’s teachers were not experienced at handling students with disability and advised his parents to transfer their son to a school for the blind. Despondent over the school’s approach to their son’s situation, the Sharmas approached George Abraham, the CEO of Score Foundation, for guidance on how to handle their son’s lose of sight. George not only provided them with guidance but approached Mayank’s school as well. He helped make the administration and teachers aware about blindness, notably in providing inclusive education to vision impaired students.
Amit Patel knew compensating facilities are available for blind students like to give him an equal footing with other students. His university allowed a scribe to write his MBA exams, but not extra time to take the exam. Then he sought the help of Eyeway. Eyeway helped Amit to acquire a copy of the rules for MBA courses, which was the basis of Amit’s request for compensating facilities. In addition to the information given to Amit, Eyeway also connected him with the Office of the Chief Commissioner of People with Disabilities (CCPD) and his university for a discussion about the matter. After his university was enlightened, Amit was granted his request both for a scribe and extra time in his examinations.
Gautom Baruah of Guwahati, Assam, is an enterprising young man despite his blindness. Gautom runs his own shop selling cellphone connections, recharge coupons, and other basic telecom gadgets. He had always wanted to do easy recharging independently for his clients, not relying on other people for an otherwise easy task. Gautom heard about the talking software for cell phones which he needed on the Eyeway Radio Show. Today Gautom tops up his clients’ cellphones independently, causing amazement at how a blind person can be a regular entrepreneur and contribute to the normal workings of society.
Alpana Dubey had always been optimistic about life and had strong resolve to face challenges in reaching her ambitions. When Alpana lost her eyesight as the result of a complication of Menengitic Hydrocephalus, her strength of character and the support of family and friends meant it did not disrupt her optimism to reach her dreams. Eyeway gives her a rich knowledge resource and the motivation to lead a full life. Eyeway counselled Alpana when her usual confidence waned as she chose her course of study. Today, as Alpana is confidently pursuing commerce, she has also been connected by Eyeway to an e-group of blind people who are in the same profession as her.