January-February 2013

Volume 2, Issue 1, January-February 2013

Score Foundation is a New Delhi based not-for-profit organisation that runs the project Eyeway—a single stop knowledge resource for living life with blindness.

A day on the Eyeway Help desk

On the 14th of February, when half the staff was out of office for work, those of us in office pitched in to make ends meet. Consequently one of our newer members ended up on the help desk attending calls. She had had no formal training or induction to the help desk and the day was a definite learning. The following is an account of what the help desk does from an outsider’s perspective.

On any given day the help desk at Eyeway is a whirl of activity. However Deepti never really thought that, the help desk really does anything extraordinary. Hence when on the 14th she found herself sitting at the help desk she didn't think much of it. Fast forward a couple of hours. When the time finally came for her to turn in her headphones, she was very much humbled.

A few hours on the help desk made her realize how valuable the service is for all our clients. The various calls seeking all manner of information, made it clear that sitting at the help desk required a lot of training and painstaking gathering of information. There were also the calls that narrated of discrimination being faced at various avenues. As someone who is sighted, this was a real eye-opener. Couple this with the painstaking documentation of each call – with the lack of a dedicated documentation management system, which is currently under construction – and this meant hours spent documenting and archiving calls for future use.

It was then that she realized how valuable the help desk really is. There are VI people out there who are being discriminated every day at banks, at work places sometimes even at home. The Eyeway help desk has been providing information and counselling for 7 years now.

Recently Score Foundation has been struggling to keep the help desk afloat, after we lost funding. The help desk is easily one of the most valuable resources available for VI people out there, and in order to keep the service uninterrupted, we at SCORE are currently on the lookout for funding for our help desk.

Education in India is a fundamental right of all citizens. What should be a fundamental right, however, is the right to quality education without discrimination on the basis of gender, class, race, ethnicity or disability. Score Foundation, has observed huge operational gaps in the implementation of the IEDSS scheme in Delhi Govt. schools during its advocacy intervention. Towards this end we proposed a research plan to understand the operational gaps in the implementation of IEDSS Scheme in the national capital.

Inclusive Education for the Disabled at Secondary Stage (IEDSS) is a centrally sponsored scheme of the Ministry of Human resource and development, Govt. of India and implemented by the state education departments. The IEDSS Scheme looks at inclusive education of children with disability in the age range of 14+, studying in classes from 9th to 12th.

The research shall involve structured interviews to understand the gaps in implementation of IEDSS from the viewpoint of different Stakeholders. However even after completing impending formalities, Score Foundation has not heard back from the DoE. After repeated attempts at establishing contact, it was finally revealed that that our request has been rejected. However no formal letter of rejection had been sent across.

To this end, on 29th January, we requested the Directorate of education, through an email application to reconsider our case. Score is currently also considering filing an RTI to the DoE in the coming week, in relation to the same.

Uniform Guidelines
Score foundation along with 70 other organizations formulated Uniform examination guidelines for the visually impaired individuals giving various university related and professional examination. Score foundation forwarded these guidelines to MoSJE for approval last year in April, 2012.

When we did not hear from the Ministry, score foundation pushed these guidelines through CCPD (Chief commissioners for person with disability). In a November 2012 hearing at the CCPD, the commissioner ordered MoSJE, to finalize the guidelines formulated. on 25th Feb, 2013, the above guidelines were finally issued with approval of Hon'ble Minister (Social Justice and empowerment).

Score foundation has remained instrumental in pushing forward the guidelines, and ensuring that the Ministry approved the guidelines. 

CBSE Circular on JAWS
Owing to complaints from our Clients, we noticed that the Circular on JAWS ( screen reading software) that will help students with vision impairment to write their exams using a computer needs to amended to include the use of easily available screen reading softwares such as NVDA, Dolphin etc. 

Further it also required to allow amanuensis for specific examinations where the language includes certain symbols, formulas and technical words. Score foundation requested CBSE through a written request to make the required amends to the circular.

After repeated follow ups, Score foundation filed a formal complaint at CCPD's office regarding the same. THE CCPD, issued a notice asking CBSE to immediately amend the circular and provide appropriate reasonable accommodation to the students. 

The chairperson of CBSE has assured the CCPD's office that the circular shall be amended timely and the needs of students with vision Impairment shall be taken into consideration. We are now waiting the final formal notice by CBSE updating the same on their website.

Winds of Change

On 31 January after 4 and half years of association we bid farewell to a cherished member of our team. Satguru Rathi, who was a help desk executive at Score. We wish him all the best for his future endeavors.

With Satguru’s departure, we welcome Saurav Roychowdhury to our team. Taking over where Satguru let off, Saurav’s time volunteering with NAB (National Association for the Blind) and the foundation course in disability education make an ideal choice to take over the position. What both of them have in common is their passion for the domain and empathy. Saurav had originally intended to teach, however he feels that Score is a place where he can gain a holistic perspective and knowledge of the domain of life with blindness.

Saurav says, “I am passionate about bringing in a change in thinking which can potentially  reduce the social barriers that visually people face. I wanted to engage more with people to do so, and my work at Eyeway Helpdesk gives me an opportunity where I interact with blind/low-vision people calling us from all across the country”. He enjoyed the turnaround he could bring in the case of Mr. Pancharam who called up the helpdesk in February. Mr. Pancharam is a teacher near Jodhpur. By virtue of living in a small zila, the SBI branch where he has an account is some 70 kilometers away from his house. Mr. Pancharam was being denied an ATM by is bank branch due to his vision impairment. Since we are aware that according to RBI rules a bank cannot refuse to provide any service/product to a vision impaired client, Saurav apprised so and also emailed a copy of the relevant circulars to Mr. Pancharam and also marked its copy to his bank.  Soon enough Mr. Pancharam was issued an ATM along with an apology from the bank officials.

Saurav believes, the feeling of having made a difference to someone’s life, albeit in a small way is great. He is excited to be associated with Score and we are thrilled to have him on board.  
Right to Information Vs Social Welfare Department 

Information is a very strong tool used for empowerment of people with disabilities. Central and state government have formulated various schemes and programmes to provide assistance to people living with blindness but the problem is lack of detailed information and effective utilization of these schemes. Therefore our research team has started collecting state level information regarding various schemes available for the disabled. The intent is to disseminate information to people living with blindness and also to analyze these schemes. 

This demands a lot of hard work. The process of collecting information,  is a lengthy and time-consuming process. Hence, we have exercised the Right to Information Act (RIT) requesting information from different states and diligent follow up are being conducted.
Research proposal
Parenting is the most challenging job an individual will ever face, and when the child in question is disabled the challenge is compounded manifolds. The job can be stressful as well as rewarding simultaneously. Currently Score foundation is disseminating information on the domain of correct parenting for visually impaired children through our help desk as well as our website.

However, since a parent is paramount in determining the future success or failure of a visually impaired child, there is a need of strengthening knowledge in the domain of parenting. Therefore a research proposal aiming to 'understand the coping style and support system of parents of young visually impaired child' has been presented. This research study will be carried out in Delhi.
One Billion Rising - One Billion rising campaign was a part of V-Day - a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery etc.

Score foundation believed that it is important for visually impaired people to also participate in this campaign, as women with disabilities are doubly vulnerable to abuse and molestation, since they cannot adequately defend themselves. Their participation would shed light on the violence they suffer which usually goes unnoticed. We ensured that along with women, young men with vision impairment also participate in the event to establish the fact that ‘men with disabilities also equally opposes this violence and stands with society hand in hand in supporting the cause. Along Young people with disabilities came forward at Parliament Street to rise and dance supporting ending violence against women.
Our Intervention
  • IBPS
On 3 January 2013 an Eyeway Helpdesk caller, working with a bank contacted us to shed light on a strange development that Institute of Banking Personnel Selection(IBPS) had initiated. The candidates called for interview for the posts of probationary officers in Public Sector banks, IBPS had suggested two rules which drew flak and sharp criticism from the visually impaired aspirants.
The first rule was that the candidates at the time of interview again needed to complete and submit "scribe declaration form" with the educational certificates of the scribe who had assisted them for the written exam, a condition which was not mentioned in their original advertisement or at the time of the exam.
Secondly they were required to submit a medical certificate in a format prescribed by IBPS, which meant disregard to the certificate they would already have as per the disability law in the country.
We knew that in 2011, Pallavi Kadam, director at National Association for the Blind India, Mumbai, had worked hard to remove the 'marks scored' criteria for selecting scribe for IBPS's common written examination. Given her past connection with the IBPS, we discussed with her on the 4th January about the matter.
Furthermore as the interview of candidates began on the 14th January it was implicit that a decision be arrived at as soon as possible to spare the aspirants any undue hassle. We also made it clear that IBPS would be required to communicate the changes to the concerned candidates by call or email as soon as the conditions were revised. On the 7th January candidates started receiving emails from IBPS communicating waiving off the two conditions.
So within less than a week, with the assistance of efficient networking and prompt communication, the issue was discussed and resolved at priority level. The rules were scrapped and the aspirants were relieved from the extra running, they now could concentrate on the interviews. Thanks to NAB, Mumbai and the Helpdesk caller who highlighted the issue, we could work with the right people the joint efforts could bring about a complete turn-around to procedures which generally takes a lot longer. 


  • Neha Agarwal
In March 2011, Neha Agarwal, a 27 year old from Hyderabad contacted us after being referred by Payal Kapoor, a friend of Eyeway.
Neha had lost her vision at age 19 in 2003 due to Stevens-Johnson syndrome and was practically print impaired. Before losing her eyesight, Neha was a fresh eyed young girl who had just finished class 12th from commerce along with a diploma in fashion & textile designing. She had been looking forward to making her career in the same before the visual impairment threw a wrench in her plans. She lost her self confidence and her family suddenly became very overprotective, as they lacked awareness about possibilities of leading a life with blindness. They accepted that it would be impossible for her to pursue her dreams and become self-reliant. So much so that Neha herself became very unsure of any possibilities and for 8 long years, she stayed away from her dreams and aspirations.

In 2010 when Neha got in touch with Payal, she had hit her rock bottom and wanted to move on. With Payal’s guidance she decided and managed to convince her family, and finally enrolled for graduation through distance learning. At the same time she also started learning computers using screen reading software. But she was still not sure of getting out of home and making a career for herself.

In March 2011, when Neha contacted us, we realized that she was determined but needed to improve her confidence, self-esteem and awareness about possibilities. Hence, we suggested that she listen to our radio shows archived online. By means of small examples we started convincing her that she was the one who needed to take steps to find solutions to her problems. Slowly taking baby steps Neha started the tedious task of sensitizing her family about the possibilities of a life with blindness.
On the other hand, we started helping her become more aware about the various employment options available. Towards this end in June 2011, we informed her about the IBM Service Management course at EnAble India. Although she was selected to do the course, Neha’s parents were apprehensive about sending her off to a new city to study alone. Knowing it could be a turning point for her, we together with EnAble India and Payal Kapoor could help Neha convince her parents, and in July 2011 Neha joined the course. Here she not only picked up the technical skills, but also independent mobility skills and other life skills.

Upon completion of the course, in October 2011, a short term internship with EnAble India further helped foster her sense of self-worth and she decided to sit for an interview with IBM. Seeing the changes in her, her parents finally started believing that Neha could move out independently and become self reliant. After returning to Hyderabad, Neha joined a computer programming course, took her graduation exam, and was busy learning and developing new skills.
As a result of her perseverance and training, Neha was selected by IBM, Hyderabad for the post of project coordinator and she joined the company in January 2013.
Today Neha is on top of the world; our guidance and the training at EnAble India have come a long way in helping Neha gain her confidence. She is very happy and thankful to EnAble India, Payal Kapoor and Eyeway!
The Month Gone By

Talk at DU NTPC Equal Opportunities Cell on world disability day
On the 4th of January, on the occasion of Louis Braille’s, our CEO George Abraham spoke at the DU NTPC Equal Opportunities Cell. As an alumnus of DU himself, George spoke of the importance of university years in any student’s life. George spoke of his learning from DU and the value it created in his life. He stressed on the importance of being aware and the need for knowledge in every students life, notwithstanding disability.   

Talk at Law Faculty Delhi
On the 8th of February, George delivered a sensitization talk to the LLM Students of the Law Faculty in Delhi. The purpose behind the talk was to spread awareness about disability; the idea was to enable students to view the disabled as potential resources instead of potential liabilities. George recounted real life stories to lift the bar regarding the disabled in peoples mind and to endeavor a change in mindsets.
News In Brief

Eyeway Audio Health Magazine – The third issue of our audio health magazine is now available on YouTube. Listen to parts 1-6. Listen Here
Intranet launched - Carrying on from last issue, our Intranet is ready and up. We have started using our very own Intranet for internal communication and to manage work flow of all activities in a structured manner.

Radio Update - Our Radio Program Eyeway Yeh Hai Roshni Ka Karwan in its 9th season. The latest season was aired starting 16th January. This season features an interview with Swagat Thorat the editor in chief of “Reliance Drishti” a Braille Newspaper, published out of Mumbai, and a cooking demonstration by Payal Kapoor of Hyderabad who herself is blind. 
The season also features a Radio Drama about the life of a blind girl Taranum who hails from a small village in India. This season we have also introduced a new section called Helpdesk Section, wherein we discuss different cases studies from our Eyeway Helpdesk. Listen Here.

TV Series – Curtsey Sightsavers UK Score is moving ahead with a 13 part television series for national telecast. The well known actor Naseeruddin Shah has agreed to do the introduction and sign off of each of the episodes pro-bono. The series will be spread across various themes such as parenting, education, sport and recreation. Score is looking at this TV series as a game changer, as our objective behind the series is to encourage the masses to look at blind people as a resource for the economy as opposed to a liability. Currently the pilot episode of the same is being shot.  


Our new Radio Anchor – Anil Srivatsa He has been a veteran of the media field since the past 20 years. He had launched a radio show called ‘Anil Ki Awaaz’, in New Jersey, USA and ‘between the sheets’ in India. He also launched an internet radio channel for Asian Americans. Anil Srivatsa is the Co-Founder, CEO Venturenet Partners Pvt. Ltd. (promoters of Spot Radio and Radiowalla). Prior to launching Venturenet Partners, Mr Srivatsa was the CEO of Kings XI Punjab and before that he was the COO Radio Today Broadcasting. We are very excited to have Anil on board and look forward to a great season!

Darpan Ved joined us in January as the project coordinator on our Television Series.

Saurav Roychaudhary joined us in February as a Help desk Counselor. Saurav has a B.A. in Political Science from Delhi University. He has also completed a foundation course in disability education from Montfort Center for Education, Tora, Meghalaya as well as ISL- Level A from Noida Deaf Society. In the past Saurav has volunteered with NAB Delhi and headed eNGO projects under DEF and TISC to empower grass root organizations, schools and hospitals with ICT and website designing. We welcome Saurav to our team.

Deepti Gahrotra joined us as the Communications Manager in February. Deepti is responsible for content generation and dissemination, as well as Media Relations. She has done her PGDM in ADPR (Advertising and Public Relations) from IIMC (Indian Institute of Mass Communication), New Delhi. Previously she has worked with 20:20 MSL, a technology PR firm on clients such as Dell and Logitech. We welcome Deepti to our team.

Bidding Farewell

Satguru Rathi one of our Helpdesk Counselors left us this month. Over the past 4 and half years he contributed to the growth of the information base at the help desk, as well as in the development of the SMS Channel. Satguru specialized in handling technology related queries and even helped around the office with technology related matters. Over the last 4 years, we have seen Satguru blossom into a capable and self-reliant individual. We wish Satguru all the best for his future endeavors.   

Don’t forget to watch our documentary film on YouTube ‘Life Does not Stop Here!’

Score Foundation’s mission is to inform, inspire and empower all persons with visual impairment in India to live independent and successful lives with equal access to opportunity and services. We gather and disseminate knowledge and information on life with blindness through project ‘Eyeway’ which encompasses our radio show, our helpdesk (+91-11-46070380), our SMS alerts and our website. In doing so we reach the blind and visually impaired throughout India, serving them with information and advice while also working to overcome discrimination and empower communities through both our grassroots and institutionally targeted advocacy activities.

We are in great need of your support. If you can please donate and help us continue the great work we do. 
Cheques to be made payable to Score Foundation and sent to 17/107 l.g.f, Vikram Vihar, Lajpat Nagar IV, New Delhi 110024. A bank transfer can also be sent. For details please contact - donations are exempt of tax under section 80G of the Income Tax Act. Thank you!
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