I have had visual impairment since my birth. Living in a village, there were minimal resources to tackle this problem. The first three years went in going from one hospital to the other to find a suitable treatment option. However, one of the doctors who treated my left eye stated that I will remain blind forever. Therefore, he told me parents t focus on providing me education.
Since I was a child, I was extremely fond of numbers. My mother still recounts an instance where I used to count each and every mustard seed and rice grain
. Counting was something that came naturally to me. Very often, I was told to count the number of days in a month that made me go into a calculator mode.
My parents' pursuit for my education started at a local charitable trust's vocational centre. I spent two years there without any formal teaching. There, the nuns suggested a special school. They sent me there to receive quality education. My sheer love for Mathematics and Science made me work as hard as I can to do well there. I studied there till Class 7, after which I went to a regular school.
Struggled In School And College
The real struggle began when I tried to adapt to the surroundings. It took a lot of time for me to settle in. Not only was I having issues getting along with my fellow students, but the subjects' difficulty level was also very high. Algebra was introduced in Maths and solving equations was a daunting task for me. I used an audio recorder for my lessons but they only helped me to a certain extent. It was then when my parents asked for any teacher in the school who would volunteer to teach me. Several people came forward to do so.
While their help was beneficial, they did not have any expectations from me. They kept dissuading me from my path by telling me to take up 'easier' subjects like Economics, Political Science etc. Despite this, I worked hard every day. All of in my reflected in my Class 10 results when I scored 95%. It was unbelievable not just for me, but for the naysayers as well.
Turning Point In My Life
The Class 10 results became a turning point in my life. My visual impairment did not deter me from excelling further in life. However, the journey did not get easier for me. I moved to the city for Junior College (Class 11 and 12). The classroom had 97 students, because of which no teacher volunteered to help me out. Topics like Calculus, etc, could not be learnt with audio recordings. Then, my cousin introduced me to accessible applications like a screen reader to study on the computer.
In university, I wanted to study Computer Sciences. Most of the subjects in it involves visual learning. I did not know anyone who was blind that studied this course. The hurdles kept on increasing that only demotivated me. So much so that I felt like leaving the course as well. However, I kept soldiering on. My cousin's acquaintance from Canada gave me online lessons in Programming and other topics that I could not understand. A lot of textbooks used were written by Indian authors, soft copies of which were not available. I had to search through the internet to find relevant information for the same.
Later I joined the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) in 2017 to do post-graduation. I worked harder than before and this made me one of the toppers in my class. Now, I run a non-profit organisation called Vision Empower that aims to make education and research accessible so that no one has to go through what I did. We have been providing learning resources to various blind schools around Karnataka for the past three years. These will help in teaching Maths and Science and properly explain all the concepts in the subjects.
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