In my last five articles, I mentioned about my initiative to sensitize people about persons with disabilities and about my first, second third , fourth and fifth experiences of sensitizing sessions in five of the schools in and around my city. Today, I am sharing my experience about my visit to MIA DAV Public School Mehatpur, Himachal Pradesh this morning.
Like always, this time too excitement peeped in as the surroundings were new and unfamiliar and my vision to deliver the session pushed me ahead. The only difference this time was, I carried a white cane and used it for a few minutes before I reached the faculty room prior to the session. Faculty members asked me about the requirements for session and made the arrangements. I carried my mobile phone, laptop and file along with me.
During the assembly, 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 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 a low vision, 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 and students came up with their queries. The best part is that the students were talking about their acquaintances having disabilities openly. I am sure that they will spread the word about the new technologies and scope I talked about. I believe that a single individual can spread awareness if he possesses the zeal to contribute in making the world an inclusive place to live in. I readily gave the students my contact details so that I can connect them with people who are having rich experience about their scenarios. For example, I personally can assist them in detail about vision impairment and related things but for other disabilities all I can do is to bridge the gap between them and the right fellow.
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 disabled 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 disabled 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 Content Manager of this station, I told them about our ways of working and broadcasts.
• A quick talk about Sugamya Pustakalaya (India ‘s first and largest collection of accessible books)
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 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 effected 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.