Visual Impairment Is Not A Barrier For This 15-Year-Old Robotics Olympiad Winner
Bhavya Shah was 11 when he lost both his eyes due to Retinal Detachment (RD) which began when he was five years old – a condition where the retina peels away from its underlying layer of support tissue, thus leading to visual impairment and blindness.
Over the course of the next six years, he struggled through daily life as he grappled with gradually diminishing eyesight. Bhavya had to undergo as many as eight eye operations but to no avail.
Every human being, at some point in life, experiences an incident that changes his life forever. For Bhavya, it came when he lost complete vision in both his eyes. However, as much as he was distraught, his parents were shattered by the finality.
Bhavya, though, did not lose hope so quickly. And although it took some time, his parents also regained their faith. With the support of his parents, friends, teachers and school staff at Gopi Birla Memorial School in Mumbai, and his rehabilitation trainers at Xavier’s Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged (XRCVC), Bhavya could finally get over the loss.
Now, he is 15 years old and is in the 9th grade, studying in the same mainstream school – in all, he is back to his normal life as far as education is concerned. Of course, he has to use a computer which is equipped with Non-Visual Desktop Access (NVDA), a screen reading software. With the help of his computer, Bhavya can pursue a normal education and appear for all his school examinations. However, for mathematics and Hindi, he still has to use the help of a scribe.
He has participated and won at numerous prestigious events like the World Robotics Olympiad, TCS ITWiz, Indian International Model United Nations Championship conference, Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities, etc.
Children with disabilities should be integrated into an inclusive environment through assistive aids not only to provide quality education but also to lessen the perceptions around disabilities for others. It helps the child to accept the limitlessness of possibilities, to perceive his disability and diversity with appreciation. Differently-abled children must be rendered with empathy and backing, and not with sympathy or pity. It is the only way to help them excel and thrive.
The Logical Indian wishes Bhavya all the best for all the future competitions and requests educationists to create an inclusive environment for disabled people in their institutions.