After her twelfth Board exams, Renu Gupta’s (a visually impaired student) father prodded her to pursue a primary teacher training course, but Gupta had other plans – she wanted to become a university lecturer in a commerce subject. And for that, she had to study B.Com, an unlikely programme for a visually impaired student to take up.
But the intrepid girl accepted the challenge head on and took admission in the B.Com course at the Sri Guru Gobind College of Commerce, where she is now an assistant professor. “I had to seek help from my peers and teachers and somehow I managed. With a little extra effort, I learnt to make accounts and tables. With practice, you tend to become perfect,” says the 31-year-old with a laugh.
She is one of the few visually impaired people who have studied accounts at the M.Phil level and is now pursuing her Ph.D in finance from the department of commerce, University of Delhi.
Dr Chandra Nisha Singh, officer on special duty at DU’s Equal Opportunity Cell agrees (albeit with some disappointment) that the visually impaired students prefer to study only humanities. “They must take up commerce to further their career prospects. We urge them to think beyond history and political science,” she says.
This trend stems from their choice of subjects at the school level when they generally don’t take up Maths and Commerce. And when they enter college, they are but left with very few options. “You won’t find many visually impaired students in programmes like BBA or BCA. Most of them don’t study Maths after the eighth standard. But a gradual shift is taking place. Some (visually impaired) students also study law. I suggest they should pick up a specialisation in law, say human rights or environment... do something different. Visually impaired students can make career in RJing too. There is one RJ in Delhi’s radio station too,” says Shalini Khanna, director, Centre for Blind Women, a unit of National Association for the Blind, India.
Those who do take up practical subjects tend to focus on the theory part – accountancy, income tax, mathematics and costing. As for the practical aspects, they do take the help from peers or family.
Rashmi Taneja, a visually impaired student pursuing her M.Com at DU, does just that. “While I was studying for my B.Com, I used to attempt theory questions in taxation and accountancy. For the practical questions, I used to rely on the ‘writer’' (provided to every visually impaired student) for making the tables. For me, it is difficult to study Commerce, but it can be done if someone in the family or a friend supports you,” says Taneja, who, being the only child of her parents, gets considerable family support.
But don’t be disappointed even if you are pursuing a non-commerce subject.
If you are determined and focused on your goals, you can make a good corporate career even by taking up humanities.
Madhu Sharma, who suffers from 100 per cent visual impairment, became a voice and accent trainer in IBM after getting her degree in English literature from Lady Sri Ram College. “Thanks to the technological boom, visually impaired students can rise to become engineers, CAs and MBAs. With the advent of computers that can talk, things are much simpler now. My husband is also visually impaired and he studied MSc (computer science) to become a software developer,” says Sharma, who now works as a deputy manager, learning and development, IBM India.