Thirty-eight-year-old Ishaq Ahmed comes from a middle-class family in Kashmir. He was studying in a mainstream school in Class 9 when he began experiencing sight loss. His parents took him to several doctors and put him through various treatments but due to retinal detachment the vision loss was irreversible.
With limited resources for persons with blindness in Kashmir, it became challenging for Ishaq to continue living there. So, he moved out and enrolled for a rehabilitation programme at National Institute of Empowerment of Persons with Vision Impairment. He also successfully finished his higher education and a PhD, availing merit-based scholarships.
He came in touch with Eyeway when he got his first job as a teacher in a government school. This was several years ago, when he had applied for Delhi as his preferred location but was posted in Rajasthan. The Eyeway counselor helped him at the time, citing a government order which mandates employees with disabilities to get preference in transfers, postings and accommodations, as suited. Ishaq had approached the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) and successfully received a posting in Delhi.
When seeking a second job in another school to progress his career recently, he encountered the same scenario. This time he was posted in Chandigarh as against his preference for Delhi. He managed to resolve the issue following the same process. But he faced another barrier when he was denied government accommodation on grounds of limited vacancies.
Once again, the Eyeway counselor advised him to bring the authority’s attention to Point 5 in the DoPT guidelines which directs establishments to give preference to persons with disabilities in providing accessible accommodation near the place of posting.
Initially Ishaq’s attempts to seek his rights were met with apprehension but eventually the management obliged.
A lot of our encounters with visually impaired people on the Eyeway Helpdesk indicate that there is very little awareness amongst the community as well as the authorities regarding the provisions and guidelines in place for the welfare of persons with disabilities. How will the blind and visually impaired progress towards independence in this ignorant environment?