My Story: My Desire To Live And Strong Willpower Helped Me Drive Forward

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My Story: 'My Desire To Live And Strong Willpower Helped Me Drive Forward'

Raghavendra Satish Peri was diagnosed with 'Retinitis Pigmentosa' at the age of 14, rendering him blind eventually. From being IBM's Accessibility Specialist to successfully running the Hyderabad Half-Marathon, his story is uplifting and inspirational.

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I had issues with my eyesight from a very young age. It all started with night blindness when I was eight years old. For atleast six years, nobody was able to figure out the reason behind my problem until I turned 14. It was then when I was diagnosed with 'Retinitis Pigmentosa' that, eventually, led to the visual impairment that I suffer from today.

Initially, the impediment was the root cause of my problems in school. Back then, many teachers refused to believe that I was going blind and thought it was nothing but an excuse to run away from my studies. Not everyone understood my problem at that time. I could not even write a single digit because of this. However, as the years went by, many identified the problem and provided me with low vision aides such as a magnifying glass that helped me a lot.

I excelled in school after which I decided to pursue Commerce in college. It became a little hard for me to cope with subjects such as accounts etc. There, I made a close-knit group of friends that helped me through this period. They read out everything for me from the textbooks that I used to memorise for the exams.

No Job Because Of My Disability

When I was a child, I found myself drawn towards sci-fi content and cartoons. We all know that childhood dreams do not always materialise into something lucrative in the future. It was when I was 19 years old that I realised my passion to work in the tech space. I was exposed to web designing and sold them in 2006. I used the magnifying tool on Windows to help me navigate through a computer or a laptop. I spent a lot of time learning new things and improving my craft further.

Towards the end of my college years, the job placement time was extremely difficult. I cracked several interviews but I was not hired because of my disability. The HR departments of various companies always delayed their answers, even when I was open about my impairment to them. A lot of them did not understand what I was going through, nor were they 'accessible' enough to accommodate an employee with a disability.

In 2007, I went to Bengaluru to train at 'Enable India.' where they taught me how to use a screen-reader and introduced me to other low vision tools. It was an eye-opening experience as I met several others who were like me as well. It was in 2009 when I got placed in IBM. I started working as a Technical Specialist.

Foray Into Accessibility

During that time, many tech companies in India only had the idea of 'accessibility' in paper but did not execute. They did not have a specific position for a 'Web Accessibility Specialist.' My colleague in the company, Punit, who acquainted me with the same in 2011. Thanks to my web-designing knowledge, I had an idea about how to make the website more accessible for the disabled community.

The meeting took place one Friday evening and I was hired the very next day on Saturday! Over the years, I got the opportunity to build the team and work with them closely. We got in more web developers as well as people within the company to work with this vertical. I worked as IBM's Web Accessibility Specialist till 2014. When I joined the team, I was the only blind person. By the time I parted ways, there were 3-4 people suffering with the same in the team. Now, a lot of them have excelled further in life. Some even have companies catering to accessibility.

Later, I worked with a company called 'DQ Software'. Now, I am the Director of Accessibility for an Israeli company called 'UserWay.'

A Sense Of Freedom And Pride

Moving away from my family to Bengaluru was a big step for me. I felt a sense of freedom as I managed a house on my own. Before coming to the city, I used to blog a lot. After I moved here, I got to meet many other fellow bloggers and we shared ideas with each other. Not just that, I even ran a few marathons. From the Hyderabad Half-Marathon in 2013 to a 10 km Auroville Marathon in Pondicherry, the adrenaline rush I got after doing this made me realise that I will never stop doing this.

However, I had no idea that my journey is a source of inspiration to many. When I lived in Bengaluru, I used to post a lot on Facebook as well as regularly updated my blog. One day, I got a call from a blind man who said that he found 'hope' when he got to know about me. I felt extremely powerful after hearing that as I had no clue how my simple blogging could make someone feel this hopeful and optimistic about their life.

Nowadays, I take full joy in living in the moment. I feel we have forgotten how to live our life in the best way possible. It is not easy to get through a disability or a health challenge as one needs to have a strong desire to live. I have that desire to live and strong willpower that has enabled me to drive forward in my life.

If you too have an inspiring story to tell the world, send us your story at mystory@thelogicalindian.com


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Editor : Madhusree Goswami
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Creatives : Akanksha Saxena

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