Break the misconception & know the truth

Sudhanya is an Intern from Christ University Bangalore, interning at EnAble India in April/May 2014. From a media studies, communication background. She is working with EnAble India providing social media assistance in-order to reach a wider audience.

Misconceptions are barriers that interfere with the ability of people with disabilities to have equality in employment. Lack of awareness promotes negative attitudes concerning employment of people with disabilities. Some of these common stereotypes and misconceptions which are floating in our society must change:

Misconception: People with disability need our sympathy and pity

Truth: Frequently we find society perceiving disability as a tragedy such that persons with disability fall into the pit of sympathy. It is important to understand that sympathy & pity is something which will break an individual’s confidence to be independent & self-reliant. Motivating people with disability will encourage them to face any challenges in life and to follow their dreams.

Misconception: Disability is a sickness

Truth: The word ‘disability’ itself is often attached to negative stigma of an incapability to do something. The question is can disability be labeled as a sickness? Can disability be labeled as incapability or lack of ability? If that is true, then how did people like Beethoven create the most beautiful symphonies, even though he couldn’t hear any of his own music? How then did Helen Keller describe the beauty of the world and the lovely music of nature, without seeing or hearing? If Beethoven and Helen Keller can do beyond the impossible, then disability as such cannot be labeled as a kind of sickness but a challenge to achieve.

Misconception: People with disability are special

Truth: Frequently we see that people with disability are called special or being different. It is important to understand how we would term the word ‘disability’. Being disabled does not stop anyone from doing certain things, though it’s true that things are done differently. Does doing things differently mean being special or being unique?

Misconception: People with disability need our protection

Truth: There is nothing wrong in being protective and concerned for anyone. It only becomes a problem when we get over-protective. This would obstruct anyone’s opportunity to do things on their own & to be self-reliant.

Misconception: People with disability are super-heroes

Truth: Often, disability is seen as a tragedy of life and surviving is a great inspiration. It is important to understand that everyone is the superhero of his/her own life. By facing all the obstacles in life, we make our own life an inspirational story.

Misconception: People with disability always need to be dependent on others

Truth: Everyone is dependent on each other, in some way or the other. It’s human nature that no one can be alone. Though it may be true that there are some people with disability who are dependent on others, it is not necessary to stereotype every person with disability as always being dependent on others. As many people with disability are also able to live independently.

Misconception: It’s easy to accidentally offend a person with disability when speaking to him

Truth: It’s important that we be polite while talking to anyone and, to ensure that we are not rude to anyone.

Misconception: People in wheelchairs have restricted mobility

Truth: Today’s highly mobile world, where we use different kinds of transportation like cars, bikes, buses, trains, etc. to reach anywhere, has almost made us forget that we can walk to places. Can the mere existence of legs be termed as being mobile? Hence, being on a wheelchair can never be termed completely as restricted mobility. Mobility is only restricted by the barriers we place in front of people

Misconception: People with disability only socialize with other people with disability

Truth: It’s true that everyone likes to be with people who share similar characteristics. But it doesn’t mean that people with disabilities restrict their company only with other people with disability. Most people with disability have family and friends who are not disabled.

Misconception: People with disability have no sense of humor

Truth: Sense of humor merely means the ability to appreciate humor. Everyone likes to be comical and people with disability are no different. Hence, sense of humor is not something restricted to a few people.

These are just a few of the misconceptions we have about people with disability. It’s important that we give a thought about how disability is being portrayed in the society, before having assumptions about it.

(The views and opinions expressed above do not necessarily reflect that of EnAble India.)

Transforming Lives

Profile Picture of Priya Suresh. Nice BIG smile
Priya Suresh is a content writer at EnAble India

“Transforming Lives” is the tag line of a popular brand which is widely advertised. This tag line always impressed me, somehow I love these words. What else can be more impactful than transforming others’ lives in society, right? So how does this popular brand do it? It sells fans, air conditioners, refrigerators and other consumer durables to make life easier.

I too wanted to transform lives, I have always had this itch to do something for society. So when Shanti asked me to join Enable India, I was overjoyed at this opportunity to transform the lives of people with visual impairment, people with hearing impairment and people with physical disabilities. I was doing this by being a content writer. Yeah, I know that doesn’t sound impactful, but that’s the truth. About a year later now I feel I have not transformed any lives. Don’t get me wrong, but the transformation has happened within me.

  • I value time: I got spoilt in the corporate world. Long breaks, luxurious offices, all facilities taken for granted. Well, Enable India’s staff and candidates taught me with little resources we can still work well. Work environment is basic, but full of love and the combination is stimulating.
  • I value people: The “greater than thou” attitude has peeled off. I respect my colleagues who are visually impaired and each new day I am learning from them about acceptance and working on strengths.
  • I understand inclusion: I have learnt in EnAble India that Inclusion is treating your co-worker as an equal. It is about making the office accessible, making all software accessible, thinking creatively for solutions and including everyone with disabilities in our lives.
  • Don’t see the world in black and white: Everyone has a perspective, nothing is right or wrong. Everyone has their own journey of life and that impacts their perceptions about things. Working with people from different socio-economic backgrounds has taught me this.
  • A better human being: In my everyday life I can feel the change that now, I am a more patient mother to my children, a more understanding wife and a friend.
  • Self-transformation: The result is that a lot of self- transformation has taken place. I am more of an optimist now, taking responsibility for my actions. Anger has been substituted with patience and perseverance.

My intention was to transform others lives but this beautiful journey with Enable India has helped to transform my life.I can’t thank EnAble India enough for this transformation.

EnAble India partners with State Bank of India

 

Small profile picture of PraneshPranesh Nagri is the honorary director of EnAble India.

I joined Enable India in April 2011. I started with volunteering, just going through whatever was on the server. It introduced me to Enable India right from the days of its inception. What wonderful work done by Madam Shanti Raghavan and later continued with the efforts of Mr. Dipesh Sutariya and supported by the earliest student and now a senior staff member Ms. Vidya Rao.

At the time of my joining Enable India I was in a discussion with State Bank of India on inclusion of persons with disabilities enrolled by them and never truly employed. State Bank of India is a huge bank, a company to the Govt of India holding the treasury and thus is an important financial structure in the banking fraternity of modern India. As a result of reservation of one per cent posts for persons with disability this and other banks have been enrolling persons with disability on the rolls of the bank. Just because the Banks believe that the persons with disability cannot work in a bank the thus enrolled work force remains without work, non-remunerative. State Bank of India requested Enable India to find out the possibilities of engaging this work force in the banking main stream. Enable India had already before my joining given a formal consent to State Bank of India and had undertaken to work in the area of finding a solution. Thus the team Murali consisting of Murali Kumar and Shiva started working on inclusion of the persons employed by State Bank of India.It was wonderful for me to understand the subject of Human Resources in Banks from disability point of view. The concept of Job Analysis, profiling the employees and customising and designing work processes for them was challenging but of course satisfying.

After an initial analysis of jobs we identified some 19 roles that we said will be performed by the persons with disabilities in state bank of India. We put up a proposal to State Bank of India for piloting the training programme aimed at converting this non-remunerative work force in to a remunerative one. State Bank of India accepted the proposal and thus started the first training with a batch of 20 Visually impaired persons at State Bank Learning Centre at Baswanguddi Bangalore.

The successful completion of this training opened up the possibilities of continuing with the programmes and even training the State Bank trainers for conducting such trainings on their own. Thus, Enable India did a capacity building training programme in the shape of a “training the trainers” programme. State Bank of India has partnered with Enable India in a number of batches being trained under the process. The employees who were thought to be non-remunerative are performing human resource as on today working and managing the HAPPY ROOM (Complaint Cell), ASSET TRACKING CELLS, PASS BOOK PRINTING, GRAHAK MIRTRA SEAT, RECIEPT AND PAYMENTS (LOW VISION PERSONS) and many other seats in the branch and administrative offices. As of today we have proposed to open a centre of Excellence in Banking for State Bank of India which will look after training and employment in respect of persons with disability aiming at being a world class facility in this area.

On 26th April 2014 Enable India entered in to an agreement with three RSETTI institutions of State Bank of India for providing training to persons with disability looking for wage employment and self employment. The agreement was exchanged by Ms. Shanti Raghavan in presence of an august gathering of senior bankers at State Bank of India led by their chairperson Madam Arundhati Bhattacharya . On the occasion two publications of Enable India namely GET INSPIRED –WORKING PROFESSIONALS WITH DISABILITY, BE AN ETHICAL WORKING PROFESSIONAL WITH DISABILITY.

THANK YOU SBI. I AM FEELING PROUD OF INDIAN BANKS.

A perfect business case – employing persons with disability

 Small profile picture of Pranesh Pranesh Nagri is the honorary director of EnAble India

 

 

 

The real art of discovering consists not in finding new lands but seeing with new eyes –Marcel Proust. We treat people on the basis of what we know about them or what we believe we know about them. And over the period of time we tend to live with our perceived notions. This is what forms the basis of our social interactions. The beliefs are so strong that we utilise them in our basic business decisions too.

In respect of disability we have since long lived with dogmas and a set of beliefs which we do not seem to be ready to change with. When a business man looks at disability what does he see? In most of the cases the businessman will see charity or a potential problem and not a potential customer. The world of business has never considered a person with disability as a potential customer. Had it been so the business setup would have made itself ready to meet the demands of this sector. The same is the case with the governments. The persons with disabilities are seen as needy recipients. Whenever they approach they are looked up to as a group needing social support or financial assistance. Thus the attention of the authorities in power ends up in a wheel chair or a few hundred rupees as assistance or a subsistence fund.

The WHO Action plan 2006-11 says that 10 percent population in world experiences some form of disability or impairment. Due to increase in population the number of people with disability is growing. That would very safely account for the largest minority. If it is so then in a country like India, looking at the population growth pattern the growth in disability sector should be significant. Lack of early intervention, environmental issues and social beliefs contribute to this growth significantly. If this is so then why does the business community not have a clear strategy of marketing to this huge group of population? If we look to banking sector hardly any branch is disability friendly in India. At least there is no such claim being made by any bank. Instead the banks are still reluctant in opening accounts and providing a financially inclusive atmosphere to persons with disability particularly the visually impaired.

Therefore if a shift in the focus will take place the whole scenario will change. When the focus will be on capabilities and abilities of the persons with disability a shift will occur in thought and action. Instead of seeing a case for charity the businesses will start to see immense possibilities in a person with disability. A customer will be visible, a business opportunity will emerge. Instead of seeing a case for assistance and subsistence a case of involvement will be seen.

When we thus speak of better education and gainful employment for the persons with disability we are speaking of benefits for everyone. A gainful employment will be possible only by providing equal opportunity through solutions. Thus equal opportunity provided and this huge human resource pool gainfully employed will help in economic growth. If we are not looking at recruiting the persons with disability to fill our job vacancies we may be missing on a great opportunity of tapping the huge potential available that can shape and change the economic scene of the country. The persons with disability form 18 Percent of the working age population. Businesses that have employed the persons with disabilities have confirmed that they would like to employ more and they do continue to employ more. Persons with disability are as reliable and as productive as anybody else. Let us understand the employment of persons with disability not as a charity but a perfect business case beneficial to everyone.

 

5 “Game-changers” for people with disabilities in the workplace

At EnAble India we believe in possibilities!

Every disabled person can add value to their community, workplace & family. Technology allows us to make more and more workplaces accessible for people with disabilities. Changes in the last few years have opened up lots of job roles for people with disabilities

  1. Screen reader – Screen readers such as JAWS, NVDA & Voice-over (MAC) allow the visually impaired to work on most applications, navigating all the important business tools such as the Microsoft office suite (Word, Excel & PowerPoint). EnAble India has trained hundreds of visually impaired candidates in using screen readers, allowing them to go on to employment in companies such as IBM, Thomson Reuters & DeutscheBank. EnAble India has created a dual sided headset, enabling visually impaired workers to use the same headset for listening to screen readers & answering the phone.

  1. Speech recognition – For people who cannot use their hands, speech recognition software enables people to give instructions to the computer with their voice – It can open programs, create emails, copy and paste, data entry, everything you can normally do. This technology is ideal for people who cannot use their hands on the keyboard. The speech recognition software that comes standard with windows software allows for a speech profile to be created, the software will learn the users’ speech pattern the more it is used. This software is a “game-changer” for people with physical disabilities with limited or no mobility in their hands and arms as well as people with cerebral palsy.

  1. Currency reader – EnAble India has created a device that reads out the value of notes, it allows visually impaired people to handle currency transactions. This opens up a huge array of jobs that have cash transactions involved. Previously, visually impaired candidates have been excluded from roles where there has been some element of handling cash. With the currency reader, the visually impaired can understand how much cash is being handled.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NALD_sT-0Z4&feature=youtu.be

  1. Camera mouse. This software uses built-in cameras to track the user’s eye movements, allowing the user to move the cursor and click by blinking. A game changer for people with physical disabilities and peoplewith severe disabilities.
  1. Customized keyboards and mouse – Allows people with physically disabilities and people with Cerebral Palsy to use keyboards and mouse more easily and with greater accuracy. The keyboards & mouse are adjusted in size and shape to make it easier to manage. Depending on the nature of the disability, some candidates are able to perform at levels similar to, or better, than their non-disabled colleagues.

Inclusive writing – 8 Great Tips

Pic of Priya & MohithPriya is a technical writing expert, developing training content with experienced trainers & accessibility experts.

When I joined Enable India, I was confident I would learn how to write to a varied audience. Coming from a technical writing background, the ground rule was one: Understand the audience. In Enable India the audience can be categorized broadly into Visually Impaired, Hearing Impaired and Physically Disabled. There are more categories. Candidates or trainers who use our training material come from varied backgrounds. Some come from rural areas, some from semi-rural areas, and few from urban areas. Most understand only Basic English.

8 Tips to help with inclusive writing:

1. Right from the start one thing was clear: use simple English. Use simple verbs. For example- “show” instead of “express” or “articulate”. This also works for the hearing impaired since simple verbs are easy to express through sign language.

2. Use simple present tense, short sentences. For example- The wrong sentence would be: “Navigating using the short cut keys in MS Word will be saving a lot of time for the candidates.” The correct sentences: “In MS Word, candidates should use short cut keys. This helps them save time during navigation.”

3. Only one action or task in a sentence. Example: Wrong sentence: “Pressing Alt +N will close the window and take the focus out of the application and onto the open folder.” The correct sentences: “Press Alt+N to close the window and exit the application. This takes the focus to the open folder.”

4. Avoid a lot of white space in a document. It is very frustrating for the Visually impaired to keep hearing the screen reader announcing “blank blank blank ….“

5. Using captions for images so that our VI friends get an idea about what the image is about. I remember the first time I removed a line that described a photo in our newsletter! So non-inclusive that was!

6. Using appropriate text to announce a link or an answer. For example: Click on this link for more details. “Answer”: To save a Word document press Ctrl + S.

7. In MS PowerPoint, minimize using graphic shapes. Screen readers do not read text boxes inside some graphic shapes in the order they are displayed, even arrows are read as graphics! So that makes it very Visually Impaired unfriendly. Use title place holder, sub title place holder, object place holder instead.

8. One important change I had to do was to use “Press” instead of “click”. Clicking is more for mouse users. Visually impaired computer users use only the keyboard, so it is always pressing the keys for them

☺ Simple short sentences works for everyone across the globe, does it not? Fully inclusive ☺ There are many more, but will stop here. The learning continues……

Volunteer Profile – Katie Mackay

Katie in the main office
Katie in the main office

Katie travelled to India for the first time in mid-September 2013 to volunteer with EnAble India for 5 months. She found EnAble India through an agency called 2Way Development, a UK based social enterprise that organises personalised volunteer placements around the world in the field of international development.

After reviewing several organisations in and around Asia, she chose EnAble India as the work sounded as though it would build upon the experience she had already gained from working with adults and young people with disability in the UK.

She feels that she adapted easily to her life in Bangalore though found crossing roads difficult at first – she thought that she had mastered this a long time back in UK and should probably have insisted upon some EnAble India mobility training in her first week!! Katie felt that everyone was so welcoming and friendly at EnAble India. “Everyone took the time to talk to me and I felt like I quickly became one of the Enable India family.”

The work has been multi-faceted: interviewing candidates and writing case studies; making retention visits to candidates in different companies and speaking to them and their managers to find out how things are going; content writing for Visually Impaired; customer service trainer for Visually Impaired; helping hand at Mysore job fair.

Katie feels she has learnt many things here at EnAble India, such as:

  • How to ask the right questions and get the most out of people during case study interviews and retention meetings.
  • Communicating with corporate people.
  • Learning how to communicate with hearing impaired (sign language)
  • Learning about skills with visually impaired
  • Gaining understanding of what its like to be a disabled person in India – the challenges etc.

Katie has felt inspired by the passion and commitment of the disabled job-seekers/ job holders that she has met at EnAble India. She has found EnAble India to be a very hardworking NGO that provides a great service to people with disabilities and people without disabilities who are enabled to have a better understanding of inclusion. Her fondest memories will be of interacting with candidates at companies, seeing them open up and react in such a positive way and generally being a part of the EnAble India team! In terms of challenges she may have encountered at EnAble India, she felt she sometimes experienced difficulties getting hold of information quickly, getting in touch with people from companies and getting appointments organised and she sometimes felt too many excel sheets has the potential to cause confusion.

She feels her life in Bangalore has been amazing and she has made friends that she hopes to keep for years to come. Katie is a musician and so had been involved in many musical projects and performed at many venues around Bangalore, becoming Bangalore’s most famous English, blonde haired trumpet player! On this she advised, “traveling around India with a trumpet is an interesting way of meeting people! I would recommend it to anyone!”

(Update: Katie has been featured in the Deccan Herald:  http://www.deccanherald.com/content/389338/i-absolutely-love-food-here.html)

Mail from a Visually Impaired Candidate to Shanti Raghavan

Hello ma’am

There are lots of things to be shared with you. Unable to understand from where should I start?

Ma’am I am happy being back to home. I am finding lots of positive changes with positive attitude towards me. The way my family is treating me I’m happy to see there concerns for me now.

Biggest change I found was my self respect which I had lost in family.Cause of loosing sight. Now I am feeling like I’m gaining it back ma’am.

Last week I went all alone out in Hyderabad. I went to all the places were I used to rome alone when I was sighted ma’am. You know ma’am it was my dream to move again all alone independently, on the same path’s where I used to move alone when I was able to see.

I had lost all the hopes and never thought, I would be able to rome again independently there.I did my schooling there ma’am. The best period of my life. I am feeling like, I am living a life now what I was looking for actually. I used to thing over a period of time that, “Is it possible for me to this birth, to move alone? Can I go to relatives place as of before?

can I go for outing with friends independently? “this question was in my mind even after being in Bangalore for such along period and that to all alone. I got my answer now. “Yes! I can and I did it.” I am very happy ma’am.

I never thought my parents will allow me to go all alone. But after little argument, I was able too. It was really an adventurus day. I asked permission to my dad he refused. He went on his work. I just dressed up, told I am going and moved. ma’am my Aunty was trying to hold me, brother called to dad, another aunt was on continuous call with me. mamma was back of me on the road trying to stop me from going alone. But I didn’t listen any one. Some how I finished the day and came back. Little bit dad was upset, asked me what about your [my] safety. I explained him every thing and told I keep small and open scissor with me. If something happens I can use it and be safe.He was very happy listening that. He got feeling of like I am thinking from all. aspects. Just not doing the things foolishly.

Ma’am now you will laugh. I asked him to get me a knife which can be opened easily when ever required. Even he guided me there after how to look more on my safety bases.Apart from that ma’am previously, there was a thinking cultivated for me, what ever I am doing, is just a time pass and waste of money.

But now every one in family. especially my dad, is finding the products/accessories which is useful/helpful for me in my day today life. Day before yesterday, he was saying that, as of now you are going out alone. I heard about some mobile which guides for the way. I want it to purchase it for you,  mobile with gps service. I told him it’s better to purchase gps receiver than mobile. He told to find it out the price and from where can it be ordered. I told him I know dad. I want to purchase it after getting employed. I was really happy seeing his concerns ma’am.

I want to say you only few sentences.”I Neha Agarwal, from bottom of my heart bowing down to your feets, thanking you for changing my life ma’am.”

I love you ma’am.I really thank whole enable-india, each and every person in and around organisation to bring vast and fantastic change in my life. For building my confidence level back. For shaping and moulding my future, career and over all helping me to gain my self respect to its original.

I just cant put it in words ma’am. I was dying for the same respect and dignity which was lacking in my family. Not only in family ma’am it was no were in my own views. Which  is the most important and powerful tool to win.

Now I gained it. Just because of you and enable-india. Ma’am I really gratitude you and Shiva sir to give me chance for service management training. I had learned many things there after. July 18th 2011, a day  waiting for me to bring huge difference in my life. This was the single chance was given to me to proof my self. Here after I feel like I utilised the chance given to me and proofed that, I was waiting for a appropriate decission to be taken by my parents for me.

Now I feel that my parents are really proud of me. Only left is getting employed. I trust enable-india, they will not leave me simply without being employed. I will be soon working in a huge organisation with dignity. I ,trust enable-india, they will make me to stand me being even financially independent soon.I conclude my lengthy mail by thanking again to you Shanti ma’am for bringing me, out of my own conflicts running inside and giving me lots of love and care, encouraging me, cheering up for every small thing, lot of other things. If I try to jot it down on a piece of paper, its impossible. thanks to Dipesh sir for working with I B M  for me to be placed in. thanks to Shiva sir to give oppurtinity to join training and train me, thanks to Anju ma’am to give us life skills training which I was really  in need of, thanks to Vidya ma’am to guide me, thanks to Hema ma’am to give me chance to do project work and guide at every point and learn the things more acuratly. The most and important person is Geeta ma’am for mobility. Today I am smiling. Its because of her mobility training. Thanks a ton Geeta ma’am.

So so so happy ma’am. A small wish and request ma’am. When I will

receive my offer letter and the day I will join, I want to talk to you on call and take best wishes from you  for my future. you gave me what ever I demanded till now. So, I know, I’ll get this too. Thanks again ma’am.

According to me enable-india does: “enable-india doesn’t work only to empower person with disability.It  works for even disables lives life with dignity.” “Its incomplete, abling the disables only for living there life independently,its  complete, when abling the disables to live with respect in society, with confidence. by developing there own trust in oneself.”

EnAble India’s Children Services – Story reading session

Visually Impaired Children read the Hungry Caterpillar story and enact it

A fortnight back,  we, at children services team, had a story reading session with some of our junior students with visual impairment. 5 children with Visual Impairment, between the age 3 and 9 years read out stories from their braille books. It was so interesting to see how curious they were all to see each other’s books. Later we read the story of  “a very hungry caterpillar” also in braille. Then the children pretended to be caterpillars and ate everything that the caterpillar ate in the story. They saw the whole fruit, smelt it, felt the shape, cut/peeled them, inspected the seeds, learnt their colours and ate them up. Some caterpillars loved only junk food while the others enjoyed everything. Parents were excited too. They helped the children in learning different things about the food they ate.  It was good FUN!

Social Entrepreneurs: APPLY TO IISE!

Wherever we go around the country, people ask us “When will Enable India start up in this part of the country. When will your model be implemented here?”. We have always been stumped for an answer for a long time. We are now convinced that the best way to implement our vision is via SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS who have fire in their belly, passion and vision to match it and who are willing to persevere. Given this, it was a pleasure to visit IISE in Trivandrum recently where there were many visually impaired entrepreneurs and some sighted entrepreneurs who have gone through an 11 month course to become an entrepreneur. It was a privilege to interact with entrepreneurs from around the world – from Africa, Mongolia, China, India etc. They were very interested in replicating some of the models, methodology, curriculum built at Enable India. Many thanks to Braille Without Borders for starting such an initiative. Is there anybody out there interested in being an entrepreneur and with a vision? Are you looking for training? – APPLY NOW to IISE!

Specifically for Enable India’s vision – people who have a similar vision of economic independence and dignity for persons with disability, please do apply to IISE. Enable India will be one of the places where IISE will send interns for hands-on experience. You will hence be provided internship opportunities at our premise. APPLY NOW before it is late for 2011. Spread the word. Good luck.

Shanti Raghavan – Founder, Enable India | Ashoka Fellow