Published: 25th August 2018
This Chennai group helps the visually impaired with anything from jobs to arranging scribes
S N Barath and his team of volunteers have been working on a new project creating a Digital Audio Library for visually challenged students
After attending reading sessions for a year, a visually impaired student at the Government High School in Poonamallee scored 960 in his class 12 board examination. This was an eye-opener for S N Barath, who was then a final year college student and visited the school every weekend to conduct sessions with the student. That got him thinking how a little help could go a long way in improving the plight of blind students.
So, in January 2012, along with a few of his friends Ram Kumar, Ravikant, Adhiyan, and Sakthivel, he began his journey of social service and Lit the Light, a voluntary organisation was born. It is actively involved in the empowerment of the visually impaired by assisting them through various activities like conducting reading sessions, recording study materials, arranging scribes, job assistance and alike. This completely volunteer-based service currently operates in Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Vellore, and Salem.
"We would like to set up reading centres for visually challenged students across every state and city of India and every city should have a dedicated group of volunteers taking care of these reading sessions. When I decided to set up Lit the Light I had this goal set in my mind," says Barath.
Lending a helping hand to the blind: Lit the Light empowers the visually challenged through various activities
Scribes for the visually challenged
Barath points out that every visually impaired student needs a scribe to write an exam for him or her. "There are a lot of requests that come to us on a daily basis for scribe requirements. Thus we decided to appoint and arrange scribes for as many students as possible," adds Barath. Lit the Light has volunteers that arrange for scribes by posting the requirements on social media like WhatsApp and Facebook. The scribes are arranged for in locations such as Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Thiruvannamalai, Salem, Erode and many other districts in Tamil Nadu. In Chennai alone, they arrange scribes for nearly 30 schools and colleges.
Before Lit the Light, the students were left to find and arrange scribes for themselves. The schools, colleges nor the government took any responsibility. Every year since our inception we have been arranging over 5000 scribes in different exams, in different locations all over Tamil Nadu. We have a dedicated team that arranges for scribes in each city
S N Barath, Founder, Lit the Light
A digital audio library to lend a helping hand
Barath and his team of volunteers have been working on a new project creating a Digital Audio Library for visually challenged students, which will contain audiobooks that will be made available online so that any student can download
it at any time and use it. "Currently we have about 200 volunteers, just for recording books," adds Barath.
Financial aid for employment needs
Getting employment is a primary issue for the visually challenged. Lit the Light has successfully placed 25 visually impaired candidates in different organisations. "This year we will be training a batch of 15-20 final year students in communication and Soft skills, which we feel is a necessity for every student in today’s world to get hired," says Barath.
Brewing talent: Lit the Light also have a dedicated team of volunteers who help the visually impaired to find their hidden talents
Hunting for talent
Lit the Light does not stop with education and financial aid, they also have a dedicated team of volunteers who help the visually impaired to find their hidden talents.
"We have a dedicated team which takes care of unearthing talents like singing, dancing, playing a sport, playing musical instruments etc in them. We make a video of those students and share it on social media and try to get recognition for their talents. We had also conducted a Chennai district level cricket tournament (Blindfold Cricket Tournament-2014) for visually impaired and a Tamil Nadu state-wide Blindfold Cricket Tournament 2017 (Louis Braille Trophy)," Barath adds proudly.