Published: 03rd June 2020
How Jyothirgamaya Foundation fights for accessibility and champions disability rights
Tiffany Brar, a 29-year-old visually-impaired social activist set up the organisation in 2012 with a grand vision to train visually impaired children in important life and vocational skills
At the Jyothirgamaya Training Centre, opening doors are the first order of business. The charitable organisation that works for the rehabilitation of visually impaired people caters to students over the age of 18 and works to offer opportunities to anyone who needs it the most. They train students in computer and access technology by assisting them with the help of screen readers in computers, Android and iPhone devices.
Tiffany Brar, a 29-year-old visually-impaired social activist set up the organisation in 2012 with a grand vision. She says, “We work mostly for the youth. This is fully-fledged employability training. A lot of representatives and volunteers from companies take soft-skill and interpersonal skills classes. We also offer English language sessions and blind yoga sessions with international instructors. In 2019, we introduced vocational training like basket weaving, making dream catchers and others.”
WINGED UP: Founder Tiffany Brar with Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja
The residential programme lasts for a duration of 4-5 months with over 4 batches with a maximum of 8-10 students participating in a year with food and accomodation. Just recovering from the effects of the Coronavirus, their students have been strictly advised to stay within the confines of their own home. In the meantime, the organisation has managed to reach out to their students over online courses on subjects like Advanced Android Learning. They also reached out to the families that would need some support with food and resources.
While the students were in waiting, the organisation resumed its working in making the world easier for those who are visually impaired to survive. Tiffany had consultations with similar organisations in Mumbai and Delhi about how to support the community at a time like this. about She says, “Our conversations have been about the difficulty for families, especially when it comes to food and sanitation. We have sent reports on promoting accessibility. For instance, even the Aarogya Setu app is not disabled-friendly. We have been posting and conducting discussions to advocate for inclusion and accessibility through this time.”
SCHOOL'S OUT: The organisation also conducts classest to sensitise schools in disability rights
The organisation also works to sensitise schools and colleges about promoting disability rights and how to be aware about the needs of disabled students. Over the past few years, they gave also been working with the Social Justice Department about changes that can be made in the legal structure to accomodate the needs of the differently-abled.
“The lockdown has been different for each one of us,” says Tiffany, “The idea of sitting at home without seeing the outside world hits everyone differently. Disabled people are not one large category. There are many types of disabled people who have specific needs. We have been suggesting that the government should set up a helpline to help people with disabilities and reach out to them.”