22-year-old Nikita Ghagre suffers from Retinitis Pigmentosa, an eye condition that results in gradual sight loss. Growing up in Mumbai, Maharashtra, Nikita managed her daily life and education with partial vision. She struggled to read the blackboard from a distance and had to hold the printed textbooks very close to decipher the contents.
Despite low vision, she pursued her interest in Science all the way to college. Usually visually impaired students are discouraged from taking up Maths and Science after Class VIII because of the complexities involved. Diagrams, symbols, formulae, graphs et cetera are difficult to understand. However, Nikita’s determination and passion didn’t let her waver.
But after second year of Bachelors in Science, unable to pay the fee, she was forced to drop out. Coming from a low-income family with an alcoholic father, she sat idle for two years, not knowing what to do.
While exploring a free training programme, she came in touch with the Eyeway Helpdesk. Our counselor informed her that it was possible to complete graduation even after a gap of a couple of years. Knowing well that the challenge was financial, we sought donations, helping her secure admission in the third year.
During the course of interactions, it was obvious that Nikita needed to be rehabilitated to lead an independent life with blindness. So far she didn’t have any knowledge of assistive technology or mobility aids. She relied on friends to escort her to college. The counselor convinced her to enroll for computer training with screen reader at the Victoria Memorial School for the Blind (VMSB). She was also advised to use the TalkBack feature to interact with her android phone and access various mobile apps designed for blind users. These initiatives would enable her to read, write and navigate easily, especially if her eyesight were to deteriorate further.
For economic self-reliance, she was apprised of potential government jobs and the competitive exam training that will help her with the applications.
It’s unfortunate that a bright young girl lost out on opportunities because of lack of information and paucity of resources. The Eyeway and VMSB team worked really hard to arrange for funds to ensure that she didn’t waste another academic year.
Going forward, we will guide Nikita to dream big, not allowing the impairment to curtail her ambitions.