So much a part,but still apart

At a summit in the city, the visually-impaired tell us  about their journey and battles to be won

Published: 17th September 2019 05:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th September 2019 05:36 AM   |  A+A-

Products made by people with disabilities on display at a summit held in the city

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: Renowned deaf-blind political activist Helen Keller had said: “Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.” Echoing the same optimism and hope, a bunch of visually-impaired persons, who came to the city to be a part of a three-day summit on people with disabilities, spoke on how they have fought against the tide. Apart from discussing issues that PwDs are facing in the country, the event, which was organised by Samdrushti, Kshamata Vikas Evam Anusandan (Saksham), brought together a few visually-challenged persons who talked about how the world can be made a more inclusive place. We talked to them to understand their journey and aspirations.

Mohd Asif Iqbal
Associate director, PwC India

“I am the first visually-impaired Indian to earn a Management of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management. I also take part in the 21-km marathon, and have taken part in 10 km runs several times. I am working as associate director at PwC in Kolkata. But these achievements did not come without the challenges. When I was in school, my teacher asked my father to take me away as I was ruining the ‘education environment’. My friends asked me not to play cricket as I could not see the ball. Because of the isolation I faced in every situation, I was depressed and wanted to end my life. But one day I decided that I have a right to live even if I am blind. Life must go on. In my 13-year-career, I have designed and implemented social inclusion strategy for Aadhar, accessible income tax etc. In order to promote digital inclusion, I have met former president Dr Apj Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I am the digital inclusion expert for smart city project and plan to empower the disabled technologically.”

Dr. Amit Kumar Sharma
Sanskrit professor

“Physical deformity need not stop anyone from achieving anything. If technology is made accessible and affordable, the visually challenged can even fly. I can now use my phone on my own with the help of screen reading technology. It is very unfortunate that public spaces, public utilities and conveniences are not specially-abled or visually challenged friendly. This happens because the committees who make policies that govern these spaces do not include members from our community. Special schools must be built for every form of disability. Our mythology is replete with examples of people who had disabilities. Mahasrshi Ashtavakra was physically challenged, but, intellectually and spiritually gifted. The charioteer of Sun’s Chariot, Arun, did not  have legs. Lord Vishnu in his Vaman Avatar was a dwarf. Sant Surdas was visually challenged.”

Dr Dayal Singh Pawar
President, Saksham All India Federation

“I run a hostel for the visually-challenged. My desire is to build an atmosphere where they can move freely. My another dream is to see an India that is free from corneal blindness. One of the many ways through which it can be achieved is making eye donation compulsory in India. If the corneas of bodies are donated, they can be used to give the gift of vision to many others. However, people should not do this just because it is mandatory. They should be made aware about the issue.”

Govindarajan
Entrepreneur

I am an entrepreneur and run a school in Chennai. I think that all public convenience must be made accessible to the visually-impaired. Though I am not very technologically savvy, it has helped the blind to navigate the world in a much better way. Technology has helped them overcome all the common challenges and they feel at par with people who have perfect vision.”

 

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