Finding a voice and a vision for the visually challenged- Afternoon Despatch & Courier article-By Ritta Dutta
Finding a voice and a vision for the visually challenged
Voice Vision is a unique institute offering computer courses for the blind. RITA DUTTA finds out more about this place which offers a ray of hope to the visually handicapped.
“I want every student of mine to be self-employed.” That is the dream perpetually in the eyes of Arti Bubna… eyes which have got only five per cent vision. And this dream of hers is big considering the fact that the blind are marginalized in our society — only one per cent of government jobs are reserved for them! However Arti swears she will not give up so easily. She is taking slow but sure steps in the direction of her goal. She is currently the director of Voice Vision (India), a computer school for the visually challenged at Goregaon.
Arti, who lost her vision due to retina detachment at a tender age, chose to pursue computers, but the going, as expected, was not easy. “I approached many reputed training institutes but they did not have anything for the blind people and refused to admit me.” Finally she did a correspondence course in computers from an institute for the blind in the US and came back to her home turf to open an institute for people like her, who had been deprived of opportunity due to their visual impairment.
At Voice Vision the students are taught the basics of computer along with the skill to navigate the net. The miracle is achieved by the use of JAWS, a unique screen-reading software. “Voice Vision was the first to introduce a web-designing course for the blind,” says Arti proudly. To give personal attention to the students, only two students are permitted per batch. No qualification is required for the course which is generally held over a duration of five months.” says Arti proudly.
The course material is provided either in Braille or Large Print as required by the students. “The courses are non-remunerative as most blind students cannot afford to pay even the Rs. 5,000 that we charge. We enroll students even if they pay us Rs.1,000. The institute does not receive assistance from any trust. All expenses are borne by us,” says a generous Arti.
Nineteen-year-old Raju Singh, a student at Voice Vision who lost his vision due to cancer of the eye, is currently studying in FYBA at Ruia College. He perceives this course as one that gives him a direction in life. “After being introduced to the amazing world of computer, I am sure I will be able to make it as a computer software engineer,” says Raju.
Thirty two-year-old Kalpesh Jobanbputra is another visually challenged student that the institute feels proud of. Kalpesh who is the proprietor of a plastic injunction moulding factory in Kandivli and has twenty workers under him, says, “Learning computer will help me in the sales and thus make my business prosper.”
The institute which was started in January 2000, churns out students who not only fare better in life, but instills them with immense confidence and optimism to tide over small hurdles in life. She elucidates, “It is difficult for people to come to terms with their sudden loss of sight and they end up being depressed. When I lost my vision, I too felt that the rest of my life would be miserable. So I tell my students to first acknowledge their impairment and then surpass it.
With support from family and friends, there is nothing that the visually challenged cannot do.”