Society for the Visually Handicapped

by Rohini Vemuganti

Imon was sitting by the window, his mother standing behind him, looking on as I approached SVH. He suddenly started laughing and waving when he saw his special educator, who was with me. Imon is a 6-year-old kid who suffers from Cerebral Palsy. He also has low vision. His mother is a domestic worker and father works for daily wages. They live in a one room house. He was sitting with his legs one over the other, on a wheelchair, which has wooden planks to support his back and legs.

I was curious to know how Imon learnt of SVH.

“I stay very close to this area. Every day when I used to leave for work, I saw his mother carrying him on her shoulders and waiting at the bus stop. Out of curiosity, one day, I asked her what the boy was suffering from. He was pale, looked weak; neither could he walk. She then explained his condition. I told her about SVH and their services. She was silent for a minute and then she accepted. I took her to the center and then we assessed the boy based on his grip, flexibility and visual stability. She used to carry him and bring him to the center thrice every week – leaving work early to do so. Her husband never supported her. Her family abandoned her too – as they blamed her for the boy’s condition. We could see the difficulty she was facing and so planned to do a home-based training. Based on the need and severity, we visited and trained them in life skills,” adds Annapurna.

Though Physiotherapy, Imon is learning to tighten his grip and make his muscles stronger. Light simulation is helping him control his eyes better. His mother has also been given training so that she can carry out the same from home, the remaining days of the week.

In 2004, along with the visually challenged, a boy who was hearing impaired also came to the center. They didn’t know how to deal with this boy as they didn’t have the expertise and resources for the same. Dr. Chatterjee then approached Sense International, where this boy was taken. Sense International is an organization which mentors anyone who wants to attend to deaf-blind people. She, along with her staff, then acquired the required skills and started the project for the deaf-blind in the year 2006.

“These kids have a different sign language. It differs from regular sign language to the deaf. It is based on touch and is called tactile sign language,” adds Mallika who trains these kids in the same.

Sohan, a visually and mentally impaired kid, aged 11, entered the center wearing a bright red shirt which read, “I want to travel the world.” He probably would have with his talent and love for music which I observed while he was undergoing his training.

“Sohan belongs to a blind school. Few schools partner with SVH and our special educators teach there. Those who are with multiple disabilities are sent to the center for further training. That is how Sohan came. His grip is weak which is affecting his Braille training too as he needs to hold the stylus from one hand and use the other for reading. He gets trained for the same here. He loves music and when we play some music, he cooperates even more and sings along,” adds Annapurna who train’s Sohan. I couldn’t agree more when he sang the Hindi song “Kabhi alvida na kehna.”

Annapurna also has a very deep association with the organization. She explains, “I have a younger daughter who is visually impaired. At that time, I needed counseling and guidance. I approached the organization then and now my daughter studies in an inclusive school.”

The organization also runs a vocational training unit for elder, visually-impaired students of the age group 14-20 years. They are taught to make envelopes, bags, chains, earrings etc. It also helps orphan kids at various homes and missionaries in training them for life skills like eating, washing and other daily chores.

SVH is be helping these kids see a bright and confident future.

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