Visual impairment: Retinitis pigmentosa
Dr. Ashwini Kumar Agarwal is a specialist in banking, and has worked as the Director, National Association for the Blind (NAB), Delhi from 1999-2004.
Agarwal was born in Delhi with normal vision and at the age of thirteen years began loosing his eyesight. He was diagnosed as having Retinitis Pigmentosa and lost his vision in 1976. He attended a leading mainstream school in the capital and had a brilliant academic career. His performance in mathematics in standard XII was outstanding, and he went on to studyEconomics Honors, followed by a Master’s in Business Economics, both from Delhi University. He often recalls that his postgraduate teachers, who had never dealt with a blind student before, were discomfited by his presence and hardly knew how to engage with him.
In 1986, Agarwal took up Braille and mobility training and quickly realised that together they serve as the two eyes of a blind person. Having mastered his blindness skills and having equipped himself with a Perkins Brailler and two cassette recorders, he was prepared and keen to take on the challenges of life. He completed his Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) and then passed his C.A.I.I.B. examination from the India Institute of Bankers, Calcutta, in 1989. He also won the Calcutta Bankers Award. He then went on to secure his Diploma in Bank Management from the same institute, becoming the first blind person to thus acquire the highest qualification in the field of banking in the country and received the India Overseas Bank Award for his outstanding performance in 1990. In 1993 he joined the postgraduate course in education with a specialisation in administration, guidance and counseling, and special education. In March, 2004, Agarwal completed a doctoral project in Education.
Dr. Agarwal started his career with the Punjab National Bank in 1987 and was honoured for his excellence as a disabled worker. In 1992 he became the first blind person in the Bank to pass the officer’s written examination. In 1999 he was appointed Executive Director of National Association of the Blind, Delhi.
During his tenure, N.A.B., Delhi, has emerged as a pioneer in promoting information technology among blind students. It is willing to introduce even nursery school children to computers, and has added facilities for tactographs to its resource center and for recording digital talking books to its library. Agarwal has been instrumental in making the C.B.S.E. and the National Open School system of the country more disability friendly.
The year 1991 was an important year in Dr. Agarwal’s life. He was married to Dr. Sangita and was honoured by the President of India as an outstanding disabled employee.
Dr. Ashwini Kumar Agarwal