THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Tiffany Brar’s mantra to success has always been her independence and strong-willed effort to rise above the odds. The social activist and founder of Jyothirgamaya Foundation recently won the ‘Best Role Model’ award from President Ramnath Kovind. She received the award at a function organised on International Day for Persons with Disability at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi.
For Tiffany, who has been blind since childhood, the award has filled her with a sense of great pride. “Around 35 people were recognised for their services and I was given the award under the best role model category. It felt great hearing the President mention my name in his speech, among the names of Arunima Sinha and others, as a role model for differently-abled people.”
Tiffany feels that the country needs to do more in terms of making infrastructure more accessible for the visually impaired. “I have even spoken to MP Shashi Tharoor and the Governor on the same. Everything from roads to currency and web-based applications needs to be accessible. The system for differently-abled is much better in developed countries. It still needs to be worked here. People need to come out of their comfort zone and need to voice their opinions. Only then, there will be change.”
The activist, who teaches her students to be more independent and confident, feels that the same should be followed by people like her. “I have come across a lot of educated and well-qualified visually impaired people who do not feel free to travel alone. It’s true that man is a social animal and is dependent on each other. However, differently-abled people should have a minimum level of independence and self-confidence. If not, life becomes a struggle.”
Her visual impairment never came across as a challenge for Tiffany, who has travelled alone to many places, within the country as well as abroad.Tiffany had recently visited the European Parliament at Belgium. Adventure sports like paragliding, skydiving and rope climbing are her other interests.”It is a feeling rather than an experience,” she said.
Through the Jyothirgamaya Foundation, a mobile school for the blind, students are taught to be self-reliant and achieve a sense of mobility. “Students are taken to shops, banks and other public places to learn them do things independently. They are also given role plays and skype sessions among other activities,” she said.