In each issue of beyond the I, this column presents a first-hand account of a visually impaired person's experiences in the 'real' world. Here, Smriti Singh shares her life as a student in New Delhi, expressing gratitude towards all those who helped her realise her academic dreams. She also articulates her concern over the plight of those visually impaired students who face all kinds of harassment
Looking back at my initial years in New Delhi and my life as a student here, I feel fulfilled. For, I consider an academic achievement a victory over one's disability. Ambition and hope are the two keys that guide us to move ahead in our lives. It was armed with both these that I joined Lady Shriram College (LSR), Delhi University, in 2001. I could not believe that, being a visually challenged student and a small town girl, I had made it to such a prestigious institution and that too with my choice of subject—English.
The teachers were very nice to me in the college, but they did not know much about the problems of visually challenged students and how to tackle them. My classmates were also seeing, for the very first time, a fellow student without sight. With their love and care I have been able to make my life successful.
It is difficult for a girl from a small town to adjust to a big city such as Delhi. But, as Napoleon once said, nothing is impossible. I believe that fighting difficulties can make your life successful and can brighten up many lives.
I consider myself rather lucky that I have my family to support me. I see my friends around me who are very poor and are, therefore, compelled to stay in hostels that are meant for visually challenged girls. Though these are free, these institutions are located very far from the university. These girls are not in a position to buy computers and there are not many magazines in Braille on important issues such as sex education. Consequently, they remain uninformed on such matters. There are very strict rules that do not even permit them to keep their cell phones with them. They could have restricted mobile phones in the institution campus, but what is the logic of not using cell phones outside?
Further, in some of these institutions, girls are often sexually, emotionally and mentally exploited. Here I am not blaming all institutions, but in so many of them girls and boys are segregated.
Girls should be informed about their daily life, dressing sense and sexuality. They should also be taught self-defence and the martial arts and given appropriate weapons to protect themselves. There must be proper security for them so that in case they face some problems, they can speak out and are not thrown out of their respective institutions or tortured. Above all, there must be a thorough investigation carried out by the Government as well as by NGOs to ensure the safety of these girls. They must also be given financial support from society so that they can fulfil their dreams. I really hope that people will come forward and help them achieve their goals.