Srinagar, Jan 4: On World Braille Day, visually impaired persons in Jammu & Kashmir pressed for the establishment of an institution dedicated to providing Braille training. They believe it is crucial for fostering inclusivity and empowering those with visual impairments.
The visually impaired individuals from different areas of J&K highlighted the necessity for genuine inclusivity and empowerment, along with amendments to the Disability Act.
Aqib Rehman, a visually impaired PhD scholar of Chinese Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, highlighted the challenges faced by J&K due to insufficient attention from previous governments. While acknowledging some changes, he said more needs to be done.
Rehman said the establishment of a Braille training institute was crucial for addressing gaps in resources and focusing on ensuring equal access to education and empowerment.
He said the prevailing societal attitude in Kashmir towards those with vision disabilities remains largely unaltered, despite the existence of constitutional and legal safeguards.
He pointed out the prevailing societal attitudes in Kashmir despite the existence of constitutional and legal safeguards.
Expressions perpetuating discrimination, such as “Aenn Dand” (blind bull), “Anis Chu Raat Doh Hivui” (day and night are similar to blind), Onn Kyaaki Zaani Zag Teprun (a blind cannot differentiate between red rice and white rice) perpetuate discrimination against those with vision disabilities. So there is a dire need for increased awareness, he added.
Rehman called for empowerment, equal opportunities in education and employment, and an accessibility audit for all schools and colleges in the region. Other visually impaired individuals echoed the need for accessible roads and institutes and urged the government to take necessary steps.
Citing the 2011 census, they said there are around 66,000 blind people in Jammu & Kashmir. “However, we lack the study material for them. We don’t even have a single library either of Braille or the scanned/e-text or recorded books,” they said.
They urged the administration to encourage exam-conducting agencies to establish standardised guidelines for exams involving persons with vision disabilities, including considerations such as extra time allocation and provision of writer facilities.
Demanding audits for all schools and colleges, they highlighted the absence of essential facilities like ramps and tactile accommodations, posing significant barriers to attending regular lectures.