HAVE you ever wondered about the dots under the elevator buttons? The dots are braille numerals for the visually impaired. Use of the braille alphabet and numerals in public spaces is considered an essential sign of social inclusion. And World Braille Day marked on January 4 every year encourages people to use braille for the benefit of the visually impaired in many more places of daily life.

Braille is named after its inventor, Louis Braille. It is basically a three-dimensional script for the alphabet and numbers used by blind and partially sighted people to read. The script has been essential for blind people, allowing them to access education and new technology. The United Nations celebrates World Braille Day on January 4 every year. This is done to raise awareness of the importance of Braille as a vital tool for the visually impaired. 

This World Braille Day, we look at five Indian NGOs that are leaving an indelible mark in the lives of the blind through various interventions. These include education (through braille), rehabilitation, livelihood generation and care.

Indian Association for the Blind

Indian Association for the Blind (IAB) stands as one of the oldest organisations of its kind in India. It has rehabilitated over 30,000 visually impaired youth. It was founded in 1985 by well-known blind activist SMA Jinnah. The NGO focuses on giving visually impaired youth holistic rehabilitation through skills training and education. Jinnah after having lost his eyesight at the age of 14 in a road accident did not allow his disability to dictate the course of his life. He understood that it is only through education that blind youth can overcome their challenges. He started IAB along with a group of other visually challenged individuals. 

Indian Association for the Blind is one of the pioneer organisations in India for the blind.

The NGO believes that including people with visual impairment in education is a vital step. This will enable them to realize their potential and live a dignified life. IAB, based in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, presently supports over 2,000 visually impaired youths mainly from rural and underprivileged backgrounds. Through a wide array of activities, the NGO has been enabling youth to pursue their dreams of financial independence. One of its primary objectives is to provide books in braille to as many blind students as possible. 

Divya Jyothi Charitable Trust

Since 2010, Shiva Prakash MA, visually impaired himself, has been on a mission to provide blind people livelihood opportunities. Shiva believes that it enable the visually impaired to lead a financially independent life. According to him, lack of self-belief and confidence is one of the most significant challenges that blind students face. His objective is to instil in them the courage to face their shortcomings. 

Divya Jyothi Charitable Trust is one of the NGOs on Give, and its braille books have been important to spread education

Siva Prakash founded Divya Jyothi Charitable Trust with the objective of giving skills training to blind individuals and preparing them to be part of mainstream society. The NGO currently provides computer training, personality development training, music classes, etc and even has a braille library.

In its Braille Transcription Centre, books covering various areas of interest are printed in braille. Divya Jyothi is in the process of procuring advanced braille printers to produce books on a larger scale.

Deesha Education Foundation

Deesha Education Foundation, over the last decade, has made a significant contribution across rural areas in Maharashtra. It has been mainly by supporting eye donations and spreading awareness about importance of education among the blind. The NGO through two eye banks in Amravati and Yavatmal districts has touched the lives of thousands of visually impaired individuals. Its awareness campaigns and mobile eye care units have to date reached over 10 lakh people across the state. 

Deesha Education Foundation use braille books extensively to spread the light of education among the blind

Deesha began its work in remote areas of Maharashtra by setting up eye banks where no eye transplant facilities were available. The NGO continues to spread its network in villages and towns with a vision to make optical health care accessible to the underserved rural population.

Blind Welfare Society

The NGO is led by visually impaired educationist Dheeraj Bhola. Blind Welfare Society (BWS) provides blind girl students with free of cost accommodation and education. BWS hopes that this will result in them going on to fulfil their dreams. According to Bhola, being born a girl in rural areas of the country is considered less than a tragedy and they are often discriminated.

 Blind Welfare Society is a haven for young women who are visually impaired

BWS, has been a saviour for 40 visually impaired girls many of whom have been abandoned by their families and have nowhere to go. The NGO provides these young girls and women food, and shelter and supports their education through braille books, audio aids and other facilities. The aim is to let them pursue the life of their dreams. With your support, BWS can continue to be a safe home for many more young blind girls in need of help. You can provide them with every opportunity to blossom into confident, independent women. Donate here.

Mitra Jyothi

This Bengaluru-based NGO has developed a special programme, enabling blind individuals to survive independently. Its initiative has transformed hundreds of lives in the last three decades. Called the Independent Living Skills Training, this hands-on programme gives persons with visual disabilities the ability to initiate self-reliance and ushers them towards living independently. The organization headed by Madhu Singhal, a national awardee, has accomplished many milestones not only in India but also abroad despite her own disability. 

Mitra Jyothi works for the welfare of the blind. One of its most successful initiatives is a braille trascription facility.

One of its most successful programmes is generating livelihood for blind youths through training and job placements. Educational Resource Centre (ERC). This provides accessible educational and general reading material to people with visual disabilities. Books in braille on a variety of subjects have helped the beneficiaries of Mitra Jyothi. 


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