A blessing to visually impaired students

Pallavi Acharya with her daughter.  

The phone never stops ringing at Pallavi Acharya’s house. It’s not hard to understand why: the 35-year-old has taken up the responsibility of arranging scribes for close to a 1,000 visually impaired students across Karnataka. In the last two years, Ms. Acharya, who is a consultant with the NGO Youth for Seva, has arranged scribes for 2,500 examinations for more than 350 visually impaired persons.

Ms. Acharya is a blessing to visually impaired students in Karnataka. Students from places such as Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mandya, Bagepalli, Hubballi, Dharwad, Koppal, Mangaluru, and Kalaburagi come to her. They have faith in her resolve to help them out.

When she moved to Bengaluru from Kalaburagi looking for work in 2008, she befriended a visually impaired woman in her paying guest facility. She was impressed with how the girl managed to do everything on her own. “She would even go for walks by herself. I wrote an examination for her and later arranged for a scribe for her. That network gradually developed over time,” said Ms. Acharya. Today, she has a database of 1,200 volunteers, of whom close to 150 she can count on to help “at a moment’s notice”.

In the middle of the interview, Ms. Acharya’s two-year-old daughter ambles into the hall sleepily. “This work takes so much of my time, I am hardly able to devote any to my family. If it wasn’t for the support of my husband and in-laws, none of this would be possible,” she said.

50 requests a month

While every month, she handles requests from 50 to 60 students, the numbers triple in May and November when students have their degree examination. “I get around 250 to 300 scribe requests in these two months,” said Ms. Acharya. Another is when major examination are held; last December, she arranged for 250 volunteers on one day for the Karnataka Administrative Services examination.

Even now, she said, it is a struggle to find committed volunteers to act as scribes, particularly for students writing their examination in Kannada. Her main focus is on PU and degree students as most schools for the visually impaired make their own arrangements with other schools.

Another problem is that even when scribes are arranged, many colleges are unaware or do not follow guidelines laid by the Union Ministry of Social Justice. “While the guidelines say that there is no restriction on the age or qualification of the scribes, many colleges still insist that the volunteer should be younger or from a different academic background,” she said.

In the end, what keeps her going is the warm welcome she gets from students she has helped. “It gives me a deep satisfaction to know I have been able to help so many students get a better chance at life,” she said.

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Printable version | Jul 26, 2021 1:34:13 AM |

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