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                                      Volume 5, Issue 3, July- September 2016
 
Score Foundation is a New Delhi-based not for profit organisation working towards  empowering people with visual impairment.


                                         SCOREBOARD
                                            
                                              
July- September 2016
 

Marching towards an era of Accessibility!

 

In December 2015, the government of India launched the Accessible India campaign with the aim of promoting access, equal opportunities and inclusion for people who are differently abled. This campaign was launched with the recognition of the poor infrastructural and social support available to persons with disabilities in the country. In a landmark move, Sugamya Pustakalaya India’s first and largest accessible online library for the print disabled was launched on 24th August, 2016 at the Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. With a rich repository of over 2,30,000 accessible books, the library will serve  persons with print disabilities, which includes persons with blindness and persons with any other physical or cognitive disabilities that make reading print impossible.


Score Foundation, as a member of the Daisy Forum of India (DFI) played a leading role in creating and curating communications collaterals for the launch. We actively spread awareness about the significance and relevance of the launch on social media. The Ministry for Social Justice and Empowerment and other influential stakeholders also joined in the larger conversation. Mr. George Abraham, CEO of Score Foundation chaired a topical and relevant panel discussion on the challenges plaguing over 12 million people with print disabilities in India. Only 1 percent of the content that is produced in our country is accessible, an appallingly low figure. The launch of Sugamya Pustakalaya is thus a timely and a much-needed initiative. It brings together books from all over the country, ensures that quality standards are being met with and duplication of converting books into accessible formats is reduced.

Launch of Sugamya Pustakalaya at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi

It is also a matter of great pride that India was the first country to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty, which has come into force recently on 30th September, 2016. In all countries that are a party to the Marrakesh Treaty, domestic copyright law does not apply to the sharing and distribution of books in accessible formats. Import and export of accessible versions of books is allowed, without any requirement for the copyright holder’s permissions.
Score Foundation’s mission is to enable persons with blindness to achieve their full potential through access to a wide variety of rich resources. The work of our pan-India Eyeway helpdesk is also helping to achieve this mission. Our helpdesk counsellors recently helped two young people out with their academic challenges and struggles caused by lack of adequate accessible study material. 

 
Learning made accessible

Sukumar (name changed), a student of class 11 from Tumkur, Karnataka with 100 percent blindness contacted the Eyeway helpdesk in August, 2016. He informed our counsellor that he was facing difficulties with his studies as he did not have books on the subjects of History, Economics, Political Science and Sociology in an accessible format. Read more

Thomas (name changed), a 31 year old man from Dindikal, Tamil Nadu also reached out to our helpdesk in August. He has 100 percent blindness and is currently pursuing his M.A. in English.  Read  more

Now, with Sugamya Pustakalaya being functional, our helpdesk is receiving queries from people on how to register on it and how to use its various features. As a part of the training session that was conducted for our counsellors between August 22 and August 26, 2016, Mr. Prashant Verma, Chairman of the Sugamya Pustakalaya Committee of the DFI conducted a special session at Score Foundation. He explained in detail all aspects of the online library to the counsellors and apprised them of various potential queries that people may call in for.


Starting a dialogue on accessibility
The past quarter has also seen the team at Score Foundation actively participate in and be part of a larger conversation on accessibility and social inclusion in all spheres of life. Mr.George Abraham wrote an article on how media can become more accessible to the disabled population. This was published on The Better India and re-published by the Wadhwani Foundation. Akanksha Sharma’s article on promoting accessible tourism in India was published on The Better India and Newsd. Visually impaired Gold medallist and topper of the executive MBA programme at FMS, Mahesh Narasimhan’s story was covered in Open Magazine and Newsd. Eyeway had advocated Mahesh’s case when he was first denied admission into the MBA programme.

Our volunteer Ms.Pramila Komanduri interviewed Sachin Dev Pavithran, passionate advocate for accessible technology.
He was appointed in 2012 by President Barack Obama to the United States Access Board, a federal agency that oversees accessibility for people with disabilities

Sachin Dev Pavithran: Accessible tech advocate

Self reliance through technology

A meaningful example of how accessible technology can change lives has emerged from our own helpdesk recently. Harish (name changed), a 44 year old man from Delhi had been dependent on others for a long time to manage his small business. Read more

Social inclusion is very important for persons with blindness and visual impairment to truly feel a part of, and be integrated into society as its dignified members.

Our active volunteer writer and early childhood intervention expert from Saksham, Supriya Das has contributed a series of articles on helping visually impaired infants reach development milestones and preparing young children with blindness and visual impairment for mainstream schools. Read her latest article here.

Helping visually impaired children achieve early milestone through music

Transforming Lives

Another story from our helpdesk which shows the power of social inclusion and integration in transforming lives for the better is the story of Priyanka (name changed), whose story we had shared with you in the previous issue of Scoreboard. At that time, Priyanka’s visual impairment caused her a lot of mental distress. Read more

Our Communications Manager, Shruti Pushkarna interviewed someone who embodies hope and the spirit of resilience. Dave Taylor, editor of Losing My Sight magazine started to lose his vision in 2013, and was dismissed from his job as a result. After being unemployed for nearly two years, he decided to start something of his own. Read his interview here as a great example of what you can make out of your life despite facing obstacles that may seem impossible to surmount.

Dave Taylor: Life does not stop with sight loss

Pursuing your dreams

One young man who connected with our helpdesk recently has a similar story of hope triumphing despair. Manish, a 22 year visually impaired student from Punjab had recently completed his B.Com.  Read more

 

Our Global Family

Score Foundation’s volunteers and writers come from all corners of the globe. Katie Turner, one of our former volunteers recently interviewed visually impaired fashion designer and Kingston University graduate Bianca Von Stempel, who aspires to make art and fashion more accessible to the blind. Do check out this interesting interview here.


Fashion with a Braille twist: Bianca Von Stempel's creation
 

We are engaging with different stakeholders on important community issues

We are always trying to get a deeper understanding of our partners’ areas of work and the processes involved. Our Communications Manager, Shruti Pushkarna visited two of our Eyeway partners in Bangalore from the 25th to 26th July, 2016. This visit was made with the intention of getting a deeper understanding of our partner's area of work and the processes involved. At EnAble India, Shruti met with the team, including trainers, their head and the attached content person to the team. She was given an orientation tour of the training programs conducted by the team. She also met with the Content team head to understand how the content writers (producers) planned and executed the dissemination of information. At Mitra Jyothi, Shruti underwent a similar orientation of the organization and its work. The exercise proved useful in gaining a comprehensive understanding of the partners of Eyeway network.


Score's Shruti Pushkarna with EnAble India team

Along the same lines and objectives, Eyeway Helpdesk Operations Manager, Binni Kumari visited our Eyeway partner in Punjab, Navchetna Patiala for a two day visit from the 22nd to 23rd September, 2016. The visit was to assess the performance and enhance the skills of our helpdesk counsellor in Patiala.

It is very important for the judiciary and the law enforcement agencies in the country to be aware and sensitized about the unique issues that persons with blindness face. To this end, Mr. George Abraham was invited to speak to District Judges and Judicial Officers at the Delhi Judicial Academy, Dwarka on 5th August, 2016. He spoke on the need for taking the issues of persons with disabilities seriously, and emphasized that the authorities need to play a more proactive role in ensuring the same.


Engaging with the youth
Mr George Abraham has been actively interacting with the youth of the country in the past quarter. He travelled to various colleges and universities to deliver talks on and to engage with the student body and youth of the country on issues of vital importance.
On 27th August, 2016 he spoke at Guru Nanak Dev Khalsa College, University of Delhi on the neglected issue of social security for persons with visual impairment. He spoke about the role of the collective community at large- including the general public, law enforcement agencies as well as the judiciary in strengthening the security of persons with visual impairment against financial frauds, accidents and crime.
He spoke at Kirori Mal College, University of Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on 1st September, 2016 and 8th September, 2016 respectively. He discussed the importance of social inclusion, and shared the ways in which students can integrate into the wider university communities. He also shared the expectations that students can have and what are the things to look out for in college life.
As part of the community building exercise, REACH, the Equal Opportunity Cell of Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University for Women organized an interactive session titled “ Breaking Myths and Barriers” on bridging communication gaps between mainstream students and differently abled students. Mr.George Abraham spoke at the event, and engaged in a lively discussion with the students.

Mr. George Abraham in action at LSR college

Mr. George Abraham was invited to talk at the Hyderabad Central University in an event titled ‘Changing the world or changing ourselves’ jointly organized by Centre for Regional Studies, School of Social Sciences, and Empowered Committee for Differently Abled Persons, University of Hyderabad on 15th September 2016. He spoke about making career choices, educational strategies for skill development, realizing career and redefining goals.
 

Show our Social Media some Love
Eyeway’s Facebook page is growing at a fast pace. Currently 13,063 unique individuals ‘like’ it. We are extremely appreciative of our online community, and the interest they take in the content that we post. We share resources, stories, videos, and news and latest developments. To check out our Facebook page please click here. In order to stay updated about Score Foundation’s organisational events and activities, connect with us on Facebook here. Our page is liked by 918 people.
Twitter is a space through which we connect with relevant stakeholders in the domain of empowering visually impaired people. We engage with media, policymakers, and supporters. To be a part of the conversation, follow Score Foundation’s account here and Eyeway’s account here.

 
Stay Informed through WhatsApp

The Eyeway WhatsApp group shares alerts on job vacancies, news, events and training activities. At present, we have 828 subscribers on the group. You too can subscribe by sending a message to +91-9968329329.
 
Get Published With Us

We welcome interesting, relevant and well- researched posts by guest writers. You are ideally knowledgeable about living life with blindness or possess a unique perspective on it.  You have domain expertise and are engaged with the world of the visually impaired in a meaningful capacity. If you or someone you know is interested in contributing pieces or simply having a discussion on proposed ideas, please write to us at content@eyeway.org.

 

Crowd-sourcing Information
If you would like to share any relevant information that may be useful to persons with visual impairment, please send it over to us at content@eyeway.org. We are always looking to expand and enrich our knowledge base.
 

Keep Us Going Through Your Contributions
 The work of Score Foundation is possible with the support of grants and donations from our supporters. These include organizations as well as individuals. All donations to Score Foundation are eligible for tax exemption under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act.The amazing people at Rang De are facilitating online contributions for us. To donate using a credit card, debit card or your bank account, please click here.  Please feel free to give whatever amount you are personally comfortable with. For us, every little bit counts. For donating by cheque or for donating from outside India please click here.

 

The Eyeway Helpdesk: Support, Counselling, and Guidance

The Eyeway helpdesk, which was officially launched in December of 2015, has been hard at work to address queries and counsel visually impaired people on a wide range of topics. The toll-free number, 1800-300-20469  can be called from Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm. Between the months of July and September 2016, there have been 2,499 calls to the toll-free number. A majority of the queries we receive are regarding referrals, government schemes and provisions, counselling and assistive technology.
New Initiative
 
Learnings from our Skill Development Programme with visually impaired graduates prompted us to plan a project focused on early intervention. Our experience has led us to believe that good education from an early age has a far greater impact in shaping a person than a short term intervention at a later stage in life. There is a large population of persons with blindness which is neglected and lacks access to good quality education. With that in mind, we propose to develop an education module for visually impaired children in the age group of 9 to 12 years focused on building their self confidence, instilling in them a drive to achieve goals and helping them become self reliant and independent individuals. We are looking for funding support to translate our vision into reality, enabling us to impact the quality of blind and visually impaired students that step out of education institutions. To extend your support and to know more about the project, please write to shruti.pushkarna@eyeway.org






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