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A vision to excel

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S. Saravanakumar reaches out to other visually challenged people to train them in life skills. He says that with a little more help he could do a lot more

S. Saravanakumar at SPS coaching centre at Thondamuthur.Photo: K Jeshi
S. Saravanakumar at SPS coaching centre at Thondamuthur.Photo: K Jeshi

He logs on to internet explorer and runs a Google search of news channels. He listens carefully to the news updates and shares it with you. Next, he switches over to Microsoft Word, smiles and types out a welcoming Vanakkam Sagodari . He uses the NVDA (Non-Visual Desktop Access) and JAWS (Job Access with Speech) software. S. Saravanakumar is visually-challenged, and he independently runs the SPS Coaching and Consulting Centre in Thondamuthur Panchayat Union, 20 kms from Coimbatore. Most of his students are visually challenged.

He lives with his parents P. Swaminathan (retired Divisional Development Officer, Erode) and Padmavathy, and runs the institute on the first floor of their home. “It’s agonising to live with the knowledge that you will lose your vision someday”, says Saravanakumar. His parents detected an eye defect when he was a six-month-old baby and took him for treatment, but his vision deteriorated. “I could see the blackboard only in bright light. Because I had partial vision I couldn’t get a blind certificate and use scribe facility to write my exams.”

Vision problems forced Saravanakumar to abandon a teachers’ training course, and enrol himself into a distance education programme in commerce. “I equipped myself with Braille (English and Tamil) and typewriting (Braille). I joined spoken English classes, memory development, and yoga, and learnt as much as I could. I wrote with sketch pens and darker pencils. And I started conducting classes too.”

Learning skills

In 2004, his world became totally dark. He took it in his stride and learnt about NVDA and JAWS from telephone operators Ravi and Venkatesh as well as Jagan, who runs a coaching centre for the blind in Erode. All three are visually challenged. “The speedy voice commands scared me. But, they motivated me, and I completed a six-month training,” he recalls. Now, SPS is a Government registered coaching centre for normal and visually challenged people in spoken English, Braile, personality development, business consultation, campus interview skills, yoga and meditation. Anyone from class IX onwards can enrol at the centre. He uses a number of gadgets to make his life more comfortable such as a talking calculator, weighing machine, Braille measuring tape, Braille typewriter, to name a few. His phone, Nokia E5, is equipped with the talking software. “I bought it from Saksham, Delhi. The screen reader software helps me organise contacts, alerts me on missed calls, and facilitates browsing and SMSing. I can read all your SMSes, but every word has to be grammatically correct. If you send ‘gud morn’ I can’t read it. It has to be ‘good morning’.”

Saravanakumar insists that disability is not an impediment. “My capital is my confidence,” he smiles. “My parents are my guiding force. They support me. Their only advice is ‘don’t criticise anybody, do your duty’ and I follow it. I am also punctual.”

What does he do when he’s not working? “I visit the online library for the disabled people and read. There are 50,000 books available there. I listen to news and comedies.”

Call: 94424-24400 (toll free) / 0422-6460333.Visit www.onlinecoachingcenter.in.

My strength has been a positive approach towards life. It pains me when people spread wrong information about us without understanding our capabilities and skills. We can live independently with a little encouragement...


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