Report of 3rd convention, Jan 2010

A BRIEF REPORT ON 3rd National CONVENTION OF SAYEVERYTHING GROUP

A two-day convention of ‘sayeverything’ Group was organised in the National Association for the Blind, Mumbai from January 30 to 31, 2010.

In the beginning, 2 minutes silence was observed on the occasion of the Martyrdom day of Mahatma Gandhi. It was followed by national song.

The Moderator addressed the participants. With introductory remarks, the presence of the participants in the convention was duly acknowledged and appreciated. It was informed that the programme would be inaugurated by Madam Shrilata Juha from Tata Institute of Social Science. The contribution of Mr. Ramakrishna, Honorary Secretary, NAB was also acknowledged for providing us the space for organising this convention.

A bouquet was presented to Madam Juha by the moderator. Inaugurating the programme, she expressed her concern over not knowing such a group and called it a wake up call. She also told about the master’s programme in the field of disabilities particularly from the vantage of rehabilitation running in the Tata Institute for the Social Sciences. A bouquet was also presented to Mr. Ramakrishna, honorary General Secretary, NAB.

Speaking on this occasion, he referred to the role of the NAB and its acquaintance to the majority of the visually challenged persons. He also mentioned of various projects run by this Association. Vast range of activities has been pioneered in the range of education, integrated education to the employment and rehabilitation of the blind persons. He also appreciated the role of sayeverything. He shared some of his experiences of the days when accessibility of literature was not much. Reference of new technologies was made and it was told how far it is even useful to the extent of accommodating the visually challenged persons. He remarked: Leaders do not think different things but they do things differently.

In the pre-lunch session, four papers were presented. Some of the views and their focal point are given as under:

Mrs. Preeti Monga, Director, Silverlining, expressed her views on Recognizing the Fact that We, With Disabilities, are anyway a Part of the Mainstream. Her focus was on treating the visually challenged persons as part and parcel of mainstream. She tried to make her discussion interactive. Question was raised by the speaker about mainstreaming. She emphasised that all of us are living in a mainstream. There is a need to accept our capabilities. If one can raise oneself in one’s own eyes, one will develop the confidence. Do not think yourself any less just because you cannot see and try to come on the top of the world.

Harish Kotian, the Assistant General Manager, Reserve Bank of India, Mumbai, made a presentation on Looking in to the Future. He discussed the issue of employability of the blind persons. Time gap between the development of system of the computer and the adaptive technology is a point to worry. 3 d dominating system scenario is developing and user interface will be changed which will call for lot of development of the softwares. It may make us fall back as they are interested to bring their product first without taking care of others. He also referred to the genetical studies which are also giving a ray of hope in terms of the reduction in the number of disabilities. A reference was made about the possibilities of the self-driven car. Issue of less noising vehicles was taken and it was also discussed how it would affect the blind persons. Reference of Japan was made to take some steps for the blind persons in this direction. It was also told about the induced vision and the possibilities of increasing its level in terms of making a blind person to read a document. A reference of using tongue as a source of visual stimulus was also made. He could not fail to remark that due to cost effectiveness, the time to achieve this seems to be far away.

Mr. Vinod Asudani, the Head of the Department of Humanities, Shri Ramdev Baba Engineering College, Nagpur, made a presentation on Being Effective. He told that the term compatibility is more relevant to be effective. Both the extremes are undesirable. The important thing is the middle path which can be achieved through the development of awareness in both types of groups. He made the reference to 4 Cs: confidence, constant awareness, Comprehension and communication. We should make best use of our tongues to compensate limits of our sight. Effectiveness is possible if we make our immediate surroundings compatible. Our assertiveness may also change the attitude. We should also exploit the media in the best possible manner. Until and unless we become pressure groups, we cannot change the political opinion.

Mr. Dharmarajan Iyer, the Director, Forward Marketing, Mumbai, made his presentation on The Independent Living. Some of his views were as under:
Do things by yourself as far as it is possible. People will shun of me if I am not living independently. It will develop creativity, boost confidence level, save a lot of time, supports the family etc. There is no substitute for Braille in terms of making you independent. We can be self-dependent by putting or attaching a piece of paper by writing in Braille on it mentioning what it is. For news, one should subscribe to various news groups which will make you updated. One can use treadmill for walking as blind cannot walk briskly. Cleanliness makes possible to be approached by the sighted. Hence, one should take care of himself.

Post lunch Session:

In this session, 3 papers were presented which covered the socio-legal aspects of the blind persons in particular and the disabilities in general.

Dr. A. Ram Babu, Assistant Professor, centre for the Studies of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, presented his views on Social Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities.

He explained the meaning of social exclusion which is replacing the terms like discrimination. It is a process and the consequence of the process. He also made a brief historical description of social exclusion by referring various studies. Stigmatisation, social rejection and marginalisation go hand in hand. Who are responsible for this inactiveness for inclusion. Inclusion is a right based issue. 3 issues: representation, visibility and constant efforts to force to get their concerns redressed. He also painted the positive picture by referring the contributions of Sambhavna, an organisation of the disability group, mainly the teachers, active in Delhi.

Dr. Vipin Malhotra, Associate Professor, Political Science Department, Aurobindo College, presented his views on Disability laws and the plight of people with disabilities. Some of his views are as under:

The issue of the utility of the law was raised. In the absence of the means, the disability becomes painful. Technological development has reduced the disability of the visually challenged persons. Reference of article 14-16 was made about the equality for all. Reference of article 41 was also made in favour of deceased and old age. It was strongly emphasised that no work to the visually challenged employees reduced them to unproductive workers. Reference of four major acts relating to the disability was made. Reference of acting within the economic capacity mentioned in the PWD Act was made. Giving rights is not enough until and unless we develop such a mechanism in which persons with disabilities be given proper education. Time will come when we get enlightened and the disability will get its due share.

Dr. R.K. Sarin, Assistant Professor, Political Science Department, Satyawati College, Delhi, expressed his views on How sighted perceive about blindness and the blind persons. He referred to the over-emphasis of vision by the sighted persons and giving no value to other sensory organs. References were also made to the preconceived notions in the minds of non-blind persons to the extent that even in the eyes of other disabilities, the situation of a blind person is pathetic. This extreme view made a blind person either a poor guy or an extraordinary personality. References of the literature of Kenneth Jernigan, the ex-president of the National Federation of the Blind, USA was also made who wrote couple of articles over this pathetic situation.

Day-2: January 31, 2010
Pre-lunch Session:

Four presentations were expected to be made in this session but due to paucity of time, 2 presentations were clubbed together.

Mr. K. Ramakrishnan, Honorary General secretary, NAB, India, made a presentation on Importance of having Good Attitude and Positive Approach of Life. Some of his views during this presentation were:

Leaders are not necessarily born but made. Achievers were great dreamers. Reference of various industrialists was made who achieved in the adverse circumstances. Reference of Backward integration was also made in which loss is compensated by other products. Vision, mission, destination, action and mid-course correction—are 5 things which are necessary to understand the attitude. One should never question one’s vision. Passion does not allow asking question. This will make you committed. If you want to change the perception, one has to give some time to the society. By pushing things too much, one cannot achieve so much. You have to prove. Society changes slowly. Have patience. Vision without action is a day-dream and action without vision is a nightmare. Vision is a technology and destination is a process. Destination can be quantified. Have courage for course correction. Professional culture means ready to make midway correction. Success should be matter of passion. Trust ourselves and trust others. My motivation was to do different thing.

Mr. Rajesh asudani, Assistant General Manager, RBI, combined two presentations. These were: 1. The Needs for Banking Accessibility for Visually Impaired Users and
2. Approaches for Maximizing Productivity of the Visually Impaired in Professional and Social Walks of Life with Special Emphasis on Legal and Psychological Modes: Illustrating Supportive versus Substitutive Strategies. Some of the views expressed were as under:

It is not self-evident for the majority. Financial exclusion is a new fashion. And no reference to the disabilities is made explicitly. In the year 2008, it was announced that the services should be equal to the visually impaired. Internal circular of the organisation has become the supreme law of India. Master circular consolidated the aspect of the problems of India. Thereby, the onus of proof is not with us. It is not sufficient. Some of the problems are: home loans, outright denial, imposition of co-borrower. Laws are made for implementation rather than adjudication. The reference of law is treated as a confrontational. Grey or untouched areas are: cheque books, worry of the possibility of forgery. There are no procedures. The best possible system can be biometric system. Suggestion: All cheques should be signed in front of an officer with the counter-sign of the bank officer.

Maximising the productivity of Visually impaired by legal means:

We are the part of society and have some physical impairment. It has effects and we have to live satisfactorily. The aim should be to Maximise the productivity of the disabled to give them Commercially valued work. It should be meaningful and purposefully contextualised. Impairment, attitude and structural adjustment reduce to no disability. Disability is a part and parcel of human diversity. Morally, it is not a functional role. Sensory is not a functional reality. There is a need of Legal-psychological and practical strategy. Supportive strategy is the best strategy. Substitutive strategy should be rarest of the rare. These are legal, psychological and practical in nature. Supernaturally based morality is now out of context. Hence, there is a need of inherently based socially instinct morality. Presumption of nullity is derived from law. Hence, general proposition should be positive. Such approach should be legal binding. Right to life also include to have intact body with five senses. Some of the Psychological strategies are: 1. counselling, 2. take care of multiple effects of the disability, 3. implications of the disabilities are dynamic.

Mr. Ashish Rohtagi, Lecturer for political science, government school panipat, made a presentation on Earning and Learning from a Single Source in Web Designing. Some of the issues taken by him were as under:

Web designing is an alternative source of earning. It contains text, images, music etc. It can be divided into 2 parts: commercial and non-commercial. Service websites are based on one or two topics. Blogs are personal homepages, educational websites etc. There are many languages but primary language is HTML (Hypertext mark of language) which is very accessible. There is another website which keeps updating itself. It includes twitter, google, ASP, JSP, etc. The latest trend of the web is dotnet. Websites are kept on a domain. He also touched upon the issues like Shared hosting, virtual based server and dedicated server. If we want to earn through google, we need thousand visitors. It gives earning from 4 to 20 dollars. In his presentation, he also touched upon companies like quick to host in India.

Mr. Ram Aggrawal demonstrated some of his products like Arya talking Note taker, Blue tooth key board, Oasis Spanish phone without screen, KNFB reader costing 29000 rupees. A product was shown which can be used by the computer illiterate, Engel Daisy pocket book reader costing 5800, Braille and talking watches etc.

Post-lunch session:
It was comprised of four presentations.

Mr. Feroze Pathan, Teacher, Best Higher Secondary School, Amdabad, Presented his views on Importance of Teaching Science to the Blind Students. Some of the points touch upon during his presentation was as under:

He discussed the development of education for the blind and the inclusion of various subjects. Learning science removes misconceptions. It increases power of mind. It plays a vital role in acquiring knowledge in I.T. sector. Future of learning of science for the blind is bright. With the help of various adaptive gazettes and alternative use of senses, one can do the practical part.

Mr. Mahesh Khosla made a presentation on Open Source Application and New Development in E-Speech. Some of his views were as under:

One can make changes as per one’s wish. One can develop softwares in their own languages. He also touched upon the software like Way finder and shared his experiences.

Mr. Rajesh Mehta, Manager of IBM, Global sources, Mumbai made a presentation on Global Gap. Some of the issues touched upon were as under:

His deliberation was Informative and thought provoking. He asked the audience to do some practical exercises by 1 and two using clap and making noise from the feet. He discussed about Post recession period. There is no need to hire the talent but sustain the talent. Statement of I have been paid well is a vague statement. I will become the first letter. The preparation of achievement should be desire, preparation, action, review, reflection. If you have done something, you will get recognition. He also discussed about the challenges at work place. He was of the view that desire comes from within.

Some reshuffling was made by putting the valedictory speech before the last lecture due to the overlapping of the time.

Speaking on this occasion, Mr. K Ramakrishnan, Admired the conducive attitude. He, during his speech, also made references of various activities of NAB.

Mr. Jugal Kishore Arora, Traffic Superintendent, Air India, made his presentation on Self-employment and its challenges. He shared his experiences of the days when he was engaged in self-employment. Reference was made about the usefulness of the education even for running the self-employment. He was of the strong view that there is a need of education for the visually impaired persons. We have to face challenges and if we prove to be successful, it will open the way to success even in the field of self-employment. Good standard of living and its desire force us to find employment. Neither giving less time is not justified nor is giving extra time possible. For this, one will get fixed salary. He also pointed out the drawbacks of employment. It limits our earning. Self-employment rests over our thinking. There is variety of challenges: land, money, recognising the currency, memory, dependency on the sighted persons etc. Efforts be made to provide tax exemption for the self-employment of the blind persons. Product of the VI should be preferred while purchasing. Land and technical assistance be provided at the concessional rates.

General Open House

CDs of about 4500 books were presented which were sponsored by Mr. Mukesh Jain.

Mr. Vinod Asudani suggested to let us put efforts together to develop a group.

Rajesh Asudani Supported his view and ask to come forward for this purpose and request was made that at least 10-12 persons come forward for this purpose.

Names of the persons coming forward:

Vinod Aasudani, Rajesh Asudani, Bavani Shankar, Amit Bhatt, Ramesh Kumar Sarin, Jainab. Ashish Rohtagi, Pushkar Raj pandey, Muttu Raman,

Vipin appreciated the efforts of Amit bhatt. He expressed happiness that we could cover different issues. He also expressed his Concern over too much emails.

Madam Usha expressed views over change. We should participate in the new programme.

Mr. Ramana appreciated the promptness of Mr. Amit Bhatt. He also appreciated the august gathering.

Ashvini said that we should be clear about our approach. We have to prioritise ourselves.

Jainab thanked and expressed his gratitude to be with such people.

Amit Bhatt said that we started this group on 19-12-2005. Now, we have about 210 members from various countries.

Madam Savita appreciated the concept of being effective.

Mr. Pushkar Raj Pandey Appreciated Amit Bhatt.

Hence, with full chances of expression through this open house, the convention which covered variety of topics ranging from the socio-economic concerns to the technological issues, came to an end with a feeling that this openness of expression will not only be an informative forum but also proves to be a useful and concerted effort to bring people closer in the age of alienation.