Eighteen-year-old Surand Sen was born blind into a low-income family in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh. Due to lack of awareness about educational facilities for blind children, he was sent to a regular school in the village.
Surand found it extremely hard to study alongside sighted kids or participate in any activity due to his blindness. Unlike in a special school, where he would have access to Braille script to read and write, he struggled with his study material in the mainstream institution. Since he didn’t get any training in mobility as a blind person, he was entirely dependent on his parents to take him to school and back, daily.
But after Class 7, he learned about a special school, where he sought admission. He was trained in Braille as well as how to access audio books et cetera. After school, when he filed for college applications in a regular college, he had to choose five subjects.
Due to a challenge in the online submission of his application, the administration staff misguided him to choose any subject at the time, which he could easily change later, after a confirmation of his admission.
But this didn’t work, and Surand was stuck with Music as a subject as opposed to his preference for Hindi. Despite chasing the staff repeatedly, he was turned away without a resolution. So, he contacted the Eyeway Helpdesk to seek support.
The counselor could sense anxiety and helplessness in the boy, during the telephonic interactions. Surand explained how he was being forced to opt for Music even though he lacked interest in the subject.
The Eyeway counselor then directly engaged with the college officials, coaxing them to reverse the subject to Surand’s original choice. It is often assumed that Music is a natural choice for blind and visually impaired students. In this case, the college seemed to causally dismiss the student’s persistent request, without realizing that he had an equal right to choose, like any other student.