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Who says that blind cannot use computers? – Bombay Times- By Purnima Goswami Sharma

Date on which testimonial was published:
19 Jun 2001

I was born with a cataract in both my eyes. But this fact was not known to my parents. As a kid, I would find it difficult to pick up toys. Hence, first I would feel the things around me and then only pick them up. The realisation that something might be wrong with my eyes dawned on my parents after they saw me groping for my toys. I was immediately taken to a doctor who diagnosed that I had a cataract. Since then, I have undergone nearly 10 eye operations.

My right eye was operated in 1980, at the age of seven, but the operation was not a total success. However, in 1982, my left eye was also operated and the vision was restored. Then in 1984, doctors concentrated on my right. A decision was taken to operate upon it again. I must say that they tried their best. My vision became blurred and then after some time, I lost vision completely.

In 1999, there was a detachment of retina in my left eye and its vision too deteriorated and I underwent some more surgeries. Today, I can hardly see anything with my left eye just ghostly figures, no faces at all. My dim vision never altered my zest for living and excelling in whatever I did. I learnt early on that I would have to put up with my handicap and focussed my energy on doing something positive. That helped me a lot.

In 1998, I joined the rehabilitation course at National Association of Blind (NAB) where I learned to read and write with the aid of Braille. I also did various trade courses. But somewhere at the back of my mind there was a nagging voice saying that I was not doing enough. I was restless and wanted to pursue something interesting and challenging.But I had no clue as to what that challenge was.

My brother and father motivated me to learn computers. The vision was a problem and computer institutes denied me admission. One of my friends then suggested that I join Hadley School for the blind in the US of A. I took her advice and did a correspondence course. I also found Braille keytops for my computer.

Slowly, there began to form a clear image of what that challenge was.
On conducting further research, I found out about JAWS, a screen reading software. I found it all very exciting. I decided to purchase the software and also set up an institute to teach the use of computers to the blind and those with impaired vision. I had sighted my challenge!

I started the institute in Goregaon in April 2000, and one batch has already completed the course successfully. My second batch is currently on. This has given me immense satisfaction. Not only have I overcome my handicap but in the process I have been able to help others with similar problems.
My next aim is to provide employment to my students, but for that, IT companies broaden their policies. They have to understand that the blind, too, can successfully work on computers.

To be frank, there have been many depressing moments in life, but I am a highly motivated individual and thanks to my loving family, I could overcome. My family has always supported and encourage me.
Parents who have blind children should train them to lead an independent life and the blind should not pity themselves but accept the fact and look at the positive side of life. You should not expect too much from others but believe in your own self.

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