Madurai

Technology comes handy to help visually impaired families in Madurai

K. Balamurugan, who is visually impaired, is one of the administrators of a group that raises funds to support families during the lockdown

K. Balamurugan, who is visually impaired, is one of the administrators of a group that raises funds to support families during the lockdown   | Photo Credit: G. Moorthy

Members of groups on messaging platforms have been collecting funds to help families who need help during the lockdown period

Members of ‘Unnaipol Oruvan’, a group formed on messaging platforms like Whatsapp and Telegram, have been extremely busy for the last one month. The members are all visually impaired persons from across the State, who have been raising funds to supply essential commodities and financially support the families of those with visual impairments, who have been deeply impacted because of the lockdown.

“Following the lockdown, with the contribution of the members and a few good Samaritans, we were able to collect around ₹90,000, which has helped in supporting the families of around 90 visually impaired persons,” says K. Balamurugan, a Tamil teacher at A.S. Government Higher Secondary School in Sholavandan, who is also an administrator of the group.

For each beneficiary, ₹1,000 is credited to their bank account and an acknowledgement message is posted on the group, says Mr. Balamurugan. “For those families who do not have a bank account, we either give them cash or supply groceries at their doorstep with the help of our friends. Whenever we help a visually impaired family, we post the details on the group, as we want to ensure credibility,” he says.

The Whatsapp group, which currently has around 190 members, was started in 2015. Since, the number of members in a Whatsapp group is restricted, another group was started on Telegram around a year back, which currently has around 380 members. “The advantage with Telegram is that it is more disabled-friendly and it is more secure than Whatsapp,” says T. Rajadurai, another administrator.

These groups, which were started to share credible news and have meaningful debates, have turned into a platform to raise funds for the visually impaired during the times of disasters. These members have also contributed their bit during the Gaja cyclone and the Chennai floods in 2015.

“We wanted to help the visually impaired, as being part of that community we understand the distress they will have to endure during this period. Most of them who would have petty shops or sell snacks in trains and buses, have lost their only means of livelihood. We believe that our small contribution would help them manage for some days,” says T. Mariselvam, a member from Virudhunagar.

Another telegram group called Technocenter has also been functioning to help the visually impaired to equip themselves with the latest technological developments. “There is a general notion that visually-impaired persons are not skilled enough to use digital applications. Ironically, technological development has empowered our community. It has only proved that there is no barrier for those who wish to help,” says Mr. Balamurugan.

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Printable version | Jul 10, 2020 9:57:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/technology-comes-handy-to-help-visually-impaired-families-in-madurai/article31424177.ece

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