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Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)
GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) access/inclusion and people with different disabilities. It is traditionally hosted on the 3rd Thursday in the month of May. The target audience of GAAD is the design, development, usability, and related communities who build, shape, fund and influence technology and its use. While people may be interested in the topic of making technology accessible and usable by persons with disabilities, the reality is that they often do not know how or where to start. Building awareness comes first and that is the aim of GAAD.
The 5th GAAD India event was held at Mitra Jyothi auditorium on 29th June 2019. The event was attended by representatives of companies supporting disability solutions, representatives of several NGOs, differently abled super achievers from diverse background, staffs, students, volunteers & interns in great strength.
Our Valuable volunteer Ms Katja Lobe from Germany gave a wonderful presentation with insights about 4 aspects of accessibility which were Mobility, Work space, Technology and Inclusiveness of society. Mr Pranay talked about improving employability through accessibility. He said, disability is impairment + barrier. According to him, employability is skills + barrier free set up. He split accessibility (barriers) into 4 parts i.e. physical infrastructure, technology, communication and social fabric. He said that companies to embrace disability diversity has to expand its acceptance of different ways of mobility, communication, working, appearing at cetera and not expect only a person to come and fit in their current ecosystem.
Followed by the presentations, there were couple of inspiring life experiences shared by PWD achievers irrespective of the obstacles and challenges.
National awardee Ms Dhanya who is 75% locomotor disabled, shared her awe-inspiring life story. She said if we raise ourselves then only we can raise the society. She said, instead of thinking about problems we should think about bringing change in the society. We need a world which gives equal love and respect. Mr. Darshan, shared his interesting life story through sign language which was interpreted by Ms. Suma from Chesire Disability Trust. Darshan is a Speech and Hearing Impaired person since birth.
Post which a selected accessible product/solution demo was arranged for the benefit of participants. The program concluded with an event summarization by Mr. Abhik Biswas, Prakat Solutions.
Awareness Workshop at Corporates
Mitra Jyothi team visits companies on a regular basis and participates in various events. Recently team visited couple of companies like Accenture, Mercedes Benz, Goldman Sachs, Wipro, Dell, Mentor Graphics, Persistent, CommScope, NTS either for an interaction with employees/management or for awareness drive by displaying Braille materials, equipments and the craft items made by our Visually Impaired beneficiaries. As part of the events team had also conducted awareness activities like blind fold walk, blind fold tactile identification and many more. These activities were eye opener for the corporate employees.
On 10 th April, Mitra Jyothi team comprising of staffs, students and a intern visited Mentor Graphics office in Bangalore. Our aim was to exhibit the support and services we provide to visually impaired. Upon reaching the office, we set up a stall showcasing samples of craft merchandise made by our ILS students. We also took samples of braille prints, tactiles and brochures of our programs. Our team gave a presentation regarding various courses driven at Mitra Jyothi, other events and activities. Short video was shown for a better understanding.
Then team conducted blindfold walk for the employees. Participants said that they noticed several things blindfolded which they never noticed earlier. They suggested that people should never take their vision for granted. One of our ILS student went for the office tour, to show her mobility skills. To everyone’s surprise, she took a tour of the building and came back to the same place without any help. Our student was so confident after the mobility training that she successfully navigated herself at a new place.
Followed by the blindfold walk, our team conducted a game for tactile identification. The participants were blindfolded and had to identify the object from tactile images given on 5 different pages. Participants could identify the objects with clues. They said that without a clue; identification would have been difficult.
Post activities, our team addressed individual employees’ queries. Overall, it was a memorable experience for both Mitra Jyothi and Mentor Graphics team.
Awareness Workshop at Institutes
Oxford Engineering College organised an awareness event in their college and invited achievers from different sectors to share their life experiences and create awareness amongst its students. Our Founder and National awardee Ms Madhu Singhal was also invited to grace the occasion and enlighten students with her awe inspiring life story. Ms Madhu addressed 2 sessions of approximately 150 students each. She said that everyone should be socially aware about the communities they live in. People should take social responsibility and should support inclusivity wherever they go or work. Ms Madhu also talked about braille and e-text mediums of study materials we provide to blind schools and other institutions. She also talked about our gifted students who are placed in top IT companies and other sectors. Oxford engineering college students were surprised to know about braille books and computer literacy among visually impaired. The session was an eye opener for the students.
We were also able to communicate that being visually impaired is not a barrier in achieving anything. Visually impaired just need inclusivity and they can perform at par with sighted people. Ms. Jessy who coordinated for the event said that she got a different aspect about life on that day after getting to know about Ms Madhu and Mitra Jyothi.
Attended similar events in Government college, Agara and a Government school as well recently.
Awareness Workshop at NGOs
Participated in events conducted by our partner NGOs/insititutions like GiveIndia, Chesire Homes, APD India, Samarthanam and few others.
Ms Madhu Singhal addressed Give India team during their yearly off-site meet at Sky Blue Orchids, Bangalore on 5th July 2019.GiveIndia is a non profit organisation in India. It is an online donation platform and aims to channel and provide resources to credible non-governmental organisations across India. Their funding philosophy is to bridge the gap between donors and the non-profits that are doing exemplary work in places where there is an actual need for changing the lives of people. Since the year 2000, Give India is actively working to meet this gap. Mitra Jyothi is one of their esteemed partner organisation.
On 5th July 2019, Give India had their yearly off-site meet. They invited a few partner NGOs for this event. There was a panel discussion between 3 NGO partners with the intention for Give India team to know the impact they create in society. NGO founders were requested to share their experiences about the changes in lives of people they have been able to bring with the support of Give India. Ms Madhu shared her experiences and thanked Give India for their support to Mitra Jyothi. Give India team members stated that it was a very rewarding experience and it motivates them to work even harder.
Awareness Workshop at Mitra Jyothi!
Instilling awareness in young minds is a key need to make the society more inclusive, by keeping this in mind Mitra Jyothi team conducts awareness sessions for school kids starting from kindergarten level. This year as well, around 400+ students from different schools/colleges like Euro kids, VIBGYOR, Aurinko, Greenwood High, CMRIT, Govt PU College, Basaweshwara College, Govt First Grade College visited Mitra Jyothi and got to know about Visual Impairment along with different aids used by them.
Last year, around 207 Senior KG students of VIBGYOR, Electronic City visited Mitra Jyothi to get a deep insight on the lives of the visually impaired and how the organization works towards their empowerment. They were enriched by their interaction with Ms. Madhu Singhal and Vaishali, one of the students at Mitra Jyothi. The students were demonstrated how the visually impaired use the walking sticks to navigate their way and were also showed a braille slate and how to use it. They were introduced to Braille and were shown some text books and tactile books, through which the students got a feel of the Braille script. The students eagerly participated in games and enjoyed to the fullest. Some fun questions were posed to them, which were attempted with enthusiasm. VIBGYOR teachers were happy the way Mitra Jyothi team gave orientation to the students and since many years they are getting their kids to Mitra Jyothi for awareness.
Field Trip to Devadurga and Koppal
The team then went to Koppal, a 4+ hour drive away from Devadurga. Here the awareness level was a little higher and people are a bit more open to give a patient hearing. However yet again despite expecting 40 girls, only close to 20 turned up.
After such workshops, the team returns with a sense of satisfaction on one side for being able to reach out to them but with a heavy heart on the other side seeing them in their current state of being. We will continue to work for them….bringing in awareness one person at a time, one village at a time. Slowly but surely we will succeed.