(1) Getting Back On Track

Close to four years ago, as a result of periodic retinal detachments in both eyes, my remaining vision was at a critical stage, whose usefulness was next to negligible. Although in a matter of a few more months, when my camera lens diffused with thoroughness, even at that time, I was compelled to abandon all pointless efforts to continue writing on a hard-copy notebook in almost illegible handwriting, and dismiss attempts of persisting with mainstream ways of note-taking. For the majority of the second term of my fifth grade, my education took place very precariously and unsystematically, using oral means to access notes and textbooks, relying on friends and family to Xerox or copy classwork, and taking examinations with particularly experimental scribes.

My parents were redirected to special schools, recommended home-schooling, and provided the most preposterous suggestions to somehow continue, or in certain instances, completely disband my further education. This unknowing despair went on for a significant number of months, and the future of my schooling became an uncertainty.
A ray of light crept into this cavern of confinement only when a distant relative informed my parents about rehabilitation institutes existent in the community for computer, daily living, mobility training, and wholistic empowerment of vision-impaired individuals. A promising quest recommenced for my resurrection, to change the hopelessness of my case to that of potential and possibilities, to put me back on track.
I was guided to a regional branch of a national blindness agency in India, National Association of the Blind (NAB). Since their services primarily included rendering Braille literacy, which happened to be a priority for me unquestionably second to re-learning the computer with ‘talking software’, a kind NAB executive redirected me to Xavier’s Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged (XRCVC), and that is where my true journey really began.
Note: To protect confidentiality of the identity of individuals I came across at XRCVC, names shall be omitted.
On my first visit (to the not-so-near resource centre), my first observation was of the benevolence and empathy the XRCVC staff displayed. The centre wasn’t necessarily extremely big in size, but the knowledge that other blind people were operating computers just around me, that too with total independence and efficiency, invigorated and overwhelmed me at the same time, even at that fond age of eleven.
As the Project Director & Counsellor at XRCVC was having a chat with my parents, clarifying their concerns and anxieties about many day-to-day activities in which I was inefficient or in which I faced inconveniences, the Special Educator gave me a brief tour of a variety of available assistive technologies, including a magnification software that proved incompatible with my inadequate vision, the Kurzweil OCR utility which digitized printed content, and the Job Access With Speech (JAWS) screen reader whose friendly voice invited me to the virtualized world awaiting me, a world which would transform me forever. Little did I know about the magnitude of the impact these pathbreaking technologies were going to have on my life…

Author: Bhavya Shah

I am a 16-year-old techie, quizzer, debater and Potter+Musk-head from Mumbai, India, and I am Passionate about STEM, world politicss, and disability rights. When I am not burdened by school homework (which I never bother doing anyways) nor busy blogging, you might either find me programming in Python, reading a contemporary classic, or aimlessly perusing the Internet. Also, by the way, I forgot to mention something; I can't see a thing, lost all my eyesight by the age of 11, and I'm totally blind. That's me.

8 thoughts on “(1) Getting Back On Track”

  1. I must say you should create your own YouTube where you upload videos on your life storyes as well as technology related videos spacially related to programming and NVDA


  2. Hi Bhavya, as promised I wanted to stop by to check out your blog. While losing eyesight is not the easiest thing to endure I’m glad that you and your family were able to find the resources to help you to continue to blossom.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As I was going through your writing Bhavya, I became very emotional and it was gut-wrenching as I started to personalise that a someone who has seen the world till a certain age and then darkness overwhelms later. At the same time, I marvel at the extent at which you have meticulously conditioned yourself . I have heard and read of such stories of valour and immensity of mental strength , but you are a living and burning example of such mettle. Bravo child. Hats off to you. My blessings will always be with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aradhana Ma’am – The good bit was that I was bound to lose total eyesight at some point in time and due to certain ounter-productive recommendations on a second-opinion doctor’s part, that got preponed, and I thus got time to regain skills at an earlier age. To be honest though, the shock was relatively very minimal at the age of 11-12 emotionally because I probably didn’t fully comprehend the gravity of matters then. Things fell in place well post that, as mentioned briefly in the post and as will be detailed in subsequent postings.
      Steph – Yes, resources preliminarily and primarily in the form of XRCVC and later others came to my aid, and now here I am, doing decently well.


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