On Louis Braille’s birthday today, three visually-challenged youngsters tell Neeraja Murthy how technology brought light into their lives
WITH RIGHT SPIRIT
It was not easy for Nagababu J. to get a B. Tech degree. It involved a few writ petitions and saying no to a suggestion that he learn typewriting. “Like a movie story, my student life had problems, but the ending is happy,” smiles Nagababu. He was born blind but that was hardly a deterrent for this academically brilliant and competitive student. “I knew my goal and I was willing to work hard towards it. At every step, there were hurdles but my parents and friends gave me moral support and encouraged me to compete with them. I owe a lot to Swarnalatha and her husband Gunashekar at Samanvai (a rehabilitation centre), who pushed my case and helped me join B.Tech,” says Nagababu.
An alumni of Gudlavalleru Engineering College, his college placement fetched him a job at Wipro as a project engineer. “My college practical exams were fun as the authorities were thrilled to see a visually challenged person connect electronic circuits so easily,” he says with a laugh.
He worked at Wipro for three years before moving on to his current job at Infosys as a technology analyst. “I work like any other software guy handling software development, maintenance, design and analysis,” he says.
“If we set a goal and work towards it with a positive attitude, regardless of the problems, we will have a happy ending,” he asserts.
Mahender Vaishnav is an all rounder in every sense. He is a member of the Indian blind cricket team and has played 42 matches for the country and also handles facility management at A 2 Z Infra Management that works for G.E. Global Services Site. Mahender was six when he was diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson Sydrome (SJS) a rare disorder due to a medical reaction. “I did not lose my confidence,” he smiles and continues, “I was passionate about cricket and used to regularly participate in different cultural programmes.” He got selected for Andhra Pradesh Ranji blind team and went to Goa to play his first match against Kerala. “My only disappointment has been that I could not participate in the World Cup twice because of my exams,” he recalls.
Working with multiple applications has made his job easy. He works in three shifts and handles security arrangements, housekeeping and building management among other things. “We read with Braille at the entry level. Now with technology, we are able put our best foot forward with confidence,” he says.
Married with two children, Mahender has his finger crossed for the Pakistan series to take place next month.
BANKING WITH ELAN
For customers seeking loans at the Bank of Baroda branch at Lakdi-ka-Pul, it was a pleasant surprise to encounter a visually-challenged staffer, Kali Shekar. “I would perform all my duties like any other person and my colleagues were helpful,” remembers Kali Shekar. Except cash, he dealt with issues related to loans in retail. Now, he works as a probationary officer in State Bank of India in Narasannapet in Srikakulam and is happy to be there as it is his home town. He was visually-challenged by birth but that was never a deterrent to work towards his dream. “My blessing was that I could travel to different places as my father was in the Army and that exposure boosted my confidence,” he says. He plays chess and while in school represented India at the World Junior Chess Championship held in 2003.
Initially, Shekar was interested in media and studied journalism at the University of Hyderabad. He even did his internship at The Hindu before shifting gears and moving to a different profession. “I took up banking as a profession as it is one of the stable jobs and I could showcase my skills,” says the 27-year-old. When not working, he spends time browsing Facebook.