What is life all about? If one asks such a question to people who are visually impaired the answer would be simple, its all about the small things that make you smile. Imagine a scenario where three girls in their colorful dresses are playing with crayons amongst the greenery of the park filled with pink and purple flowers under the cool white breeze beside the blue water stream and on the other side there are three boys who can't see these beautiful colors yet they can feel every bit of emotions attached with them, these are the specially abled kids and this is their ability. It is often said that one does not realize the worth of something until it is taken away from him and the same is true, people are blessed with a set of eyes with great vision yet they remain blind and then there are people who are deprived of these organs and yet they are very much long sighted.
According to a report by the World Health Organization there are over 285 million people in the world who are visually impaired, 39 million who are blind. India is home to one third of the world's blind population housing around 12 million blind people against 39 million globally. The ever increasing rate of blind population globally is due to inequity and disparity in the availability of eye care and other taboos attached with donating eyes. For years it has been wrongly believed that children with visual disability have no future and are considered to be a liability on their families and the country they belong to.
However these kids are blessed with sharp minds, strong sensing ability and kind heart that make them valuable of investment. We should immediately stop looking at them with a sympathetic eye and allow them opportunities to grow. India strives for providing these specially abled people with need based services so that they could develop to their full potential and realize their hidden talents. Keeping the same in mind India has entered and participated in various projects that aim in eliminating the problems related to visual disabilities, one of them is VISION 2020 a project by WHO and IAPB that aims to eliminate avoidable blindness.
There are various organizations and institutions that are working throughout India for the betterment of blind population of India.
The Kahaani Project's (http://engochallenge.org/winners-2015-live-storytelling-enables-visually-challenged-children-access-world-literature/ ) members work closely with these organizations to provide access to stories, folklores, and fables in almost all regional languages of India.National Association For The Blind (Employment and Training) (http://www.nabetindia.org/home/)works towards providing employment opportunities for the visually impaired.
National Association for Blind (http://www.nabdelhi.in/) which was formed in 1979 with its main objective to make visually impaired people self reliant. It also provides deaf and blind training to members of various NGOs working in the disability sector. The organization highly focuses on quality education with skill development.
One of the charitable organizations which has been working throughout India for blind people is named as Sight savers.(https://www.sightsaversindia.in/about-us/ ) The organization believes in providing educational opportunities to these people despite their disabilities, the main target group of the NGO is rural blind population. The NGO aims to eradicate curable blindness.
Blind Welfare Society (http://blindwelfaresociety.in/ ) is another nongovernmental organization that works for the welfare of persons suffering with visual challenges. Ever since its incorporation it has been working for empowering, training and educating visually impaired persons.
India is a country of diverse cultures, rich heritage, different languages etc. A common trait of every Indian national is kindness. This is the trait that deaf can hear and blind can see. India as a country and Indians as one big family are trying to incorporate these specially abled people under one umbrella. This country has shaped the minds of many, influenced their behavior and gave them identity and they are paying it back by bringing these sections of the society on an equal front and assimilate them into mainstream society.
Starting from Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh in the north we have organizations like Pritam Spiritual Trust (http://psf.org.in/ ) which ensures free or low cost eye treatment to financially unstable visually impaired people of the Poonch district. The Jammu and Kashmir government has also launched a scholarship up to Rs one lakh every year to one disabled boy and one girl of J and K. The government's main motive is to assist and encourage students with special needs to take up education and training programs.
Louis Braille Memorial Residential School (http://www.k12advice.com/school/louis-braille-memorial-school-sightless)for sightless girls has been operating since 2009 and almost 30 students have passed out from this school according to a 2011 census.
Deaf and Blind School located in Shimla (http://www.kulguru.com/school/deaf-and-blind-schoo-dhalli-dhalli-mashobra-shimla-himachal-pradesh-zop5ok6i) has excellent academic record and is counted in one of the best schools in imparting primary and secondary education to visually challenged students.
St Louis Institute (http://stlouisdeafblindadyar.org/) which was instituted in 1972 and since its inception it has successfully shaped the lives of the deaf and the blind. The institute has produced successful TV Artists, Musicians, and Newspaper Editors etc.
Coming to Deep South in Tamil Nadu a social service organization by the name of Nethrodaya (https://www.nethrodaya.org/ )was set up in 2002 which provides free higher residential school and also runs free Co ed college for the blind and other disabled population.
Following the footsteps another organization named Jyothirgamaya (https://www.jyothirgamayaindia.org/ )wishes not only to empower the blind but also wishes to allow a new perspective to the sighted individuals regarding the conditions and struggles of this blind population. The organization aims to provide need based individualized training and develop their skills.
The distance from east to west of India is 2933 km, and there are more than 2933 NGOs, organizations, colleges and other institutions working for the disabled in India.
In the extreme west we have Netraheen Vikas Sansthaan (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netraheen_Vikas_Sansthan )which is working for the rehabilitation of the blind, deaf and dumb. The institution is located in Jodhpur, Rajasthan and has been providing free education with boarding and residential facilities. The school began with a small number of 2 in 1977 which rose up to 512.
Manav Sadhna in Gnadhinagar, Gujarat (http://www.msvs.org.in/ ) funds and manages small blind school on the outskirts of Gnadhinagar. The institution also provides a residence for such kids; provide them regular meals and nurturing learning environment where the students could grow up to their full potential.
In the extreme east in Assam there is a school named Guwhati Blind High School (http://www.eyeway.org/?q=guwahati-blind-school-%E2%80%93-showing-light )that is a co educational institute affiliated to SEBA with almost 65 students on board ranging from class 1st to 10th. Not only institutions and organizations are trying to help and support the specially abled people of India but also individuals in their individuals capacity are working wonders in this sector.
One such example is of a boy Anang Tadar from Arunancal Pradesh (https://indianexpress.com/article/north-east-india/arunachal-tech-genius-who-has-invented-goggles-for-blind-wants-to-make-world-a-better-place-5021945/ )who has designed a pair of glasses that can be of significant help for the blind as it can detect obstacles from all sides within 2 m of its circumference.There are various other institutions in different parts of the world that are working for the betterment of the blind population.
The Samanvai Centre for Children with Special Needs is an NGO in Hyderabad (http://www.samanvai.org/ )which started exclusively for the blind, today it covers the lives of people with multiple disabilities. Next up is Voice Of World (https://www.voiceofworld.net/ ) which is an nonprofit organization situated in West Bengal working for the downtrodden, marginalized, underprivileged and disabled kids and adults since 1992. Saksham (http://www.sakshamfoundationindia.org/ )a trust aims in providing reading material including books and other novels and movies or other visual stuff to the disabled. It has also launched India's first Braille laptop on 27th February 2019 with the help of IIT Delhi.
Ujala (http://ujalafoundation.in/ ) is a Delhi based NGO founded by Mrs. Shalini and Mrs. Dolly to help make the visually impaired population employable. The main mission of the organization is to make the students self dependant and self reliant.
Navdrishti Social and Blind Welfare Society (http://navdristi.org/ ) situated in the National Capital of India is a nonprofit nongovernmental organization that provides training and employment opportunities to the blind.
Mission For Vision ( http://www.missionforvision.org.in/ )is an organization in another Metropolitan city of India i.e. Mumbai, it has a vision to combat avoidable blindness and to bring the same into reality it is working closely in 16 states of India.
Blindness has been recognized as one of the major health problems in India. India which is the second largest populated country in the world also inhabits lakhs of blind and other visually impaired people.
States like Andhra Pradesh and Assam have the highest number of blind residents whereas all the union territories except Delhi have the minimum number of visually impaired population.
However India was the first country in the world to launch a 100% public funded program for the control of blindness. Individuals and organizations in India are struggling to remove the "Dis" from the ability of these people; it is our mission to not allow the visual disability to be a roadblock in the development of the blind. Society at large has often looked down on blindness which results into maltreatment, abandonment and disrespect. Yet it is aimed to create a barrier free environment to empower the blind where they can realize their potential and reach up to sky limits. Efforts are being made collectively by all of these organizations to create a platform for them that allow their overall growth.The capabilities these less fortunate ones posses are marvelous and present in abundance; we just need to realize it.
Moreover, India still has a long way to go before it can ensure equity and inclusive growth of all sections of the society including the visually disabled.