By: Reeta Dewan
Shimla: It was the first experience for almost everyone including Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Himachal Pradesh Sarveen Chaudhary to see a blind woman reading India Today’s latest issue using her cell phone. Her small hand bag held a huge library of forty thousand books. In her words, “If you are a person with visual disabilities, befriend your computer. It will prove to be your real eye.”
Deepika Sood (39), blind by birth, was showing her abilities to read and write like any other person in Umang Foundation’s state level workshop on “Empowerment of Persons with Visual Disabilities through Information Technology and Media” in Shimla. Working as project director with Saksham Trust in Delhi, she has a unique mission to make the blind independent across the country through computer technology. A large number of blind employees and students from different districts participated in the workshop.
“It was thrilling experience for me to see a blind doing her work on laptop or reading books on daisy player”, said Sarita Verma, a student of Masters of Mass Communication. In total 140 persons participated in the workshop, which was supported by National Programme for the Control of Blindness and Udaan, a parents’ association of children with intellectual disabilities. Some students of sociology and psychology of Himachal Pradesh University participating in the programme said that this is a living example of empowerment of the blind through IT and it has changed their old thinking that blind persons are totally dependent on others for reading and writing.
Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment appreciated the initiative taken by Umang Foundation to sensitize people on different issues of disability through such activities. She said that the government would definitely take necessary steps to empower blind persons in the state through latest technology.
Earlier, Ajai Srivastava, chairman of Umang Foundation, in his key note address had emphasized on the requirement of change in mindset of common people as well as decision makers so that no discrimination is done with the disabled at any level and equal opportunities are given to them in every sphere of life. He said that it was the duty of the government to make modern gadgets available to persons with visual disabilities to make their life barrier free.