Groping in the dark for want of funds

 Rajesh R, a visually challenged man from Neyyattinkara, is getting more free time at work than he is comfortable with.

Published: 12th March 2018 11:22 PM  |   Last Updated: 13th March 2018 07:00 AM   |  A+A-

Rajesh R, a trainer for the visually challenged at Insight  B P Deepu

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Rajesh R, a visually challenged man from Neyyattinkara, is getting more free time at work than he is comfortable with. At the age of 35, he is facing a career crisis. After spending almost nine years as an instructor at Insight, a project for the visually challenged under Social Justice Department, he finds himself at a tough point in his career. Hardly any students are turning up for training. Most of the activities of the organisation have stopped since the department has not released funds for the past nine months. 

“Life was beautiful till a few months back. Now everything has turned upside down,” he said. He is the lone breadwinner in the family and has not received his salary for months. The visually challenged couple are struggling to send their children to school and meet other expenses.Once the crisis began, Rajesh saw his colleagues leaving one by one. The attendance register shows the number of people working in the organisation has come down from 20 to 9. 

Insight was implemented by the Kerala Federation of the Blind. It was earlier under the Kerala IT Mission and was later transferred to Social Justice Department in 2014. The project is an attempt to use information and communication technology to overcome the limitations imposed by disability. Since inception, it has trained hundreds of visually challenged to use computers, smartphones, development of teaching materials and enhance efficiency at work. “It helps students to apply for PSC exams, get online information,” said Krishnakumar from Kannur. He had come to the Insight centre at Kunnukuzhi to study computers and is now in the PSC rank list. 

Insight’s work had been praised in the Governors’ policy address, IT policy and various Assembly documents in the past. Many of them wanted the project to be replicated in each district. Yet the dilly-dally by the  Social Justice Department in renewing the contract has dealt a death blow to the model project. 
“We have been knocking at the doors of the bureaucrats seeking a solution to the issue.

The team we had built over the years will break up if the issue is not resolved. It will be difficult to set it back,” said an officer of KFB. Insight gets funds on a quarterly basis and that too after submitting reports for the previous quarter. The visually challenged are at the receiving end of the red tape. Social Justice Department Director Nooh P B and Special Secretary Biju Prabhakar were unavailable for comments.  

Major Activities under Insight
 Computer or Smartphone Training
Insight currently offers training on Computers and Smartphones with the help of screen reader software.
 Help desk Insight operates a help desk which can be accessed either in person, phone or email.
 Programmes for Schools Development of teaching aids for improving the quality of education in Blind Schools and development of Teaching materials.
 Enhancing efficiency of Visually Challenged employees
 Swaram AudioAudio recording of popular books and production of audio content.

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