In my last two articles, I mentioned about my initiative to sensitize people about persons with disabilities ,and also about my first and second experiences of sensitizing sessions in two of the schools of our city. Today, I am sharing my experience about my visit to another school this morning.
Like earlier, this time too, nervousness peeped in as the surroundings were new and unfamiliar but my vision to deliver the session pushed me ahead. I went to the principal room prior to the session. Principal Mam asked me about the requirements for the session and made the arrangements. I carried my laptop and file along with me. There was a student who assisted me to the stage though I didn’t allow her to hold my arm as I believe that I won’t hesitate asking for help when needed. I am really thankful to Principal Mam that she contemplated my idea and made this session possible.
After the prayers, one of the faculty members briefed about why I was there. I began the session with my introduction and then I led the talk step by step with all the points. To make it easy to understand, I gave examples to the students. By the end of the session, I gave a demo of how we work on a laptop or a mobile with screen readers. Usually during presentations, sessions or lectures, it is found that students talk. Being visually challenged , I was unable to see the faces or expressions of students but the silence among the students denoted that they were trying to comprehend what I was saying. At the end of the session, I had free forum but students out of hesitation or anxiety didn’t come up with their questions or doubts. I wrapped the session by saying: “If anyone has any queries or doubts, he or she can contact me. The contact details are with the faculty members.”
After the session, I was in the office. I am happy that teachers came up with their queries. They told me about students of their school having impairments. One of the faculty members even called a student from class 8th. The student was having speech impairment and her speech was beyond understanding. Mam told me that the girl was going through medical treatment. Mam further told me that the girl was an average student but over the period of time has stopped talking to others. While conversing with her, I observed that she lacked motivation. I tried to pump her with motivation and positivity. I told her about the things persons with disability are doing in this era of immense development and gave her some examples. I emphasized, “You should not pay attention to those who make fun of you. It’s your life and once you stop responding to their mocks, they themselves will stop irritating you. It is our life and we cannot ruin it by listening to silly talks of people. Prove them wrong with your deeds and achievements. Don’t waste your energy by thinking about what nondisabled students talk about you. Once you accept that you are the way you are, no one can irritate you for your speech impairment”. After this short, quick talk, I found little spark in her though enthusiasm was not there. However, I have told her that she could call me anytime if she needs any assistance I can cater. And finally, she said a few words by the end of our conversation. I am hopeful that my words will mould her towards positivity. I am really thankful to the teachers who took pain in bringing such students to my knowledge.
Main points of my Session included
· What is disability and how it is misinterpreted. And a quick peep in RTE ACT 2009.
· Detailed step-by-step information about screen readers/talking softwares. . I gave them a demo of how Screen readers work on our laptop and mobile.
· I made sure to convey my message to them that differently abled people don’t need words of sympathy but what is needed is inclusion. We all must include people of all communities. And if we help a person with disability, we should not hesitate to ask for a help from him. One should not have prejudice that a differently abled person cannot help other.
· A piece of information about Radio Udaan, an online radio station of its own kind. This station is run by visually challenged people belonging to different cities. Being an RJ and a part of this station, I told them about our ways of working and broadcasts.
So far, my sessions are going great. I am glad that people have interest in knowing more about persons with disabilities. But the only thing I have to improve is to make sure that the students come up openly. It is a general tendency that people and especially students waver to talk about disabilities. May be for a second, lack of response from students sometimes lowers my morale but I should not forget that such things take time, patience and dedication. I have to make sure that my determination to create awareness does not get affected by lack of queries. From time to time, I must remind myself, “Look Divya, everything begins with a short bit. And every such bit makes a huge impact… You have to keep yourself firm and this is something which cannot be gained in a blink of eye. Keep trying and somewhere these short efforts will bring a big change in the lives of people. Stay truthful to yourself and your purpose.”
I would like to conclude that it has always been challenging to change the view point of people at grass root but still I am glad that I am getting a positive response from the people more than my expectations. Every single bit of awareness in the society is taking me closer to my purpose.