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Thursday, August 06, 2020

‘Just because you’re different, doesn’t mean you can’t achieve great things’

I remember when I was a child, I was told that my life is ruined, but my father had faith in me and said that I have light inside of me. So, I was able to push myself and become who I am today”— Harleen Kaur.

Written by Chahat Rana | Chandigarh | Published: July 14, 2020 11:24:10 am
Visually impaired student tops her school, wants to be a teacher Harleen Kaur, a student of the Institute for the Blind, with her family in Chandigarh. Express photo

Harleen Kaur, a student from the Institute for the Blind in Sector 26 who topped the class 12 CBSE board examinations in her school by scoring 96.60 per cent in the humanities stream, says she hopes to become a teacher someday.

“I want to teach younger students so that they know from a young age that just because someone is different from them, does not mean they cannot achieve the same things as everyone else. I want them to be familiarised with people like me,” said Kaur.

Daughter of a farmer from a village in Mohali, Kaur has been studying at the Institute for the Blind all of her life, since she had a congenital condition which made her visually impaired. She has a keen interest in political science and history, which are her favorite subjects.

“I just want to study these subjects more. For now do a simple BA and then someday become a teacher,” said Kaur. The student adds that she does not wish to teach visually impaired students in particular because she does not want to fall into a particular stereotype. “Why can’t I just teach kids in general? Why be put in that category?” asked the gentle yet assertive Kaur, who is determined to achieve her goals in life.

“I always tell my students that you might have lost your sight, but you still have your vision, and you can achieve whatever you wish to with the right attitude and with the support of your loved ones,” said J S Jayara, who has been the principal for the Institute of the Blind for the past 22 years. Jayara, who has been visually impaired since he was ten years old, says he teaches his students to excel despite all odds.

“I remember when I was young, even I was told that my life is ruined, but my father had faith in me and said that I have light inside of me. So, I was able to push myself and become who I am today. This is what I teach my students every year as well, and they always excel,” he added.

The principal added that even during the lockdown, his students, especially those who are from senior classes, have been able to continue their education smoothly due to their familiarity with technology.

“Technology has become our extra eye now, and my students are especially dependent on it to learn. They are equipped with special software to conduct research and study online, so they are actually more equipped than other students who had to transition to digital education during these circumstances,” Jayara pointed out.

Kaur also stated that she was dependent on her own notes in braille, the support provided by her teachers, as well as audio books and other technological support for preparing for the class 12 exams.

“I am also very grateful for my reader, Ira Singh, a student of class 11. If it weren’t for her, my exam would not go as well as it did,” she said.

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