Visual impairment: Blind since birth
Born: April 16, 1978
Making it in life with the right approach and attitude
“Everywhere you go, there are problems, it is how you handle them” says, Heeru Chandnani. For Heeru, her disability is almost a non-issue; it’s all about being comfortable and making others comfortable about your disability. Her positive attitude and practical approach has enabled her to achieve success in whatever she chose to do in life.
Heeru has been blind since birth, due to an undeveloped optical nerve. Her parents ensured that their daughter received formal education in a mainstream school with non-disabled children. When she was of school going age, most schools refused to give admission because of her blindness. In her words: “They (schools) did not take me because they did not know what integrated education was”. However, the principal of ‘Bishop Cottons Girls High School’ was impressed with Heeru’s conviction and confidence and gave her admission. And she did not disappoint: in 12th Std., she passed out with distinctive marks and made the school proud.
In college, she wanted to take up psychology. College authorities absolutely refused and asked her to rethink on her choice of subject and come back after a week. She went back after a week and restated her desire to do psychology. They gave in; she scored pretty good marks. The teachers were now supportive of her endeavours.
Helping others with their studies and listening to the same thing over and over again were some of the tactics she used to cope with her studies.
After completing studies, she got her first job with Eduquity as an Organisational Psychologist in November 2002, quite easily. Then in November 2004, a chance came with IBM India, in her words, “the best” so far. She was interviewed both telephonically and face to face. She was told what the job would entail and asked how she would handle it. She replied aptly and got the job. She is employed with I.B.M. as a Human Resource Administration Specialist at Bangalore. Human Resources was her natural choice as she felt, “it is about normal people like me”
When asked if she faces any problems, given her visual impairment, while doing her job, she emphatically answers “none at all”. Explaining how she deals with attitudes in the workplace or otherwise, she says: “It is up to us to tell and help people learn how we work; by being nice, patient and understanding. They need some time to learn and, eventually, they do.”
Heeru’s life extends beyond studies and career. With a background in western classical music, she can sing in Hungarian, Welsh, Japanese, Korean, Italian, English, Latin and French (she also speaks French!). And that is not all: she also plays piano, and participates in choir singing. Her passion for music has resulted in many awards being bestowed on her. She was the recipient of the National Association for the Blind’s Neelum Khurshed Kanga Prize in 2003”.
Heeru feels extremely grateful to God and is thankful to her parents, sister and friends, for their unconditional support. She attributes her achievements to her extrovert nature, hard work, determination and a willingness to explore new things. Perhaps most important though is her habit of pursuing everything with passion, be it work, hobbies or anything else in life.