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Monday, October 18, 2021

New support group for visually impaired adults aims to provide social and emotional support

Blind persons face several barriers when it comes to socialising, which leads to loneliness, says ophthalmologist Dr Aishwarya Mulay who formed the group to offer them emotional support.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
Updated: September 27, 2021 8:04:29 pm
Dr R A Mashelkar, Dr Aishwarya MulayDr R A Mashelkar and Dr Aishwarya Mulay

When Dr Aishwarya Mulay, an ophthalmologist, came across a 60-year-old woman, who had recovered from Covid-19 but lost vision due to aggressive fungal infection mucormycosis, she decided to start a support group for visually impaired people in the city.

“The woman had sought a second opinion and during the consultation, she seemed lost and dejected. There are support groups for cancer, alcohol addiction and others, but hardly any for adults who have lost their vision,” said Mulay, who is a cataract and glaucoma consultant at hospitals like KEM and Sahyadri, among others.

The pandemic has been difficult for all of us, but it has been far more challenging for people with vision impairment, Mulay added. There are several barriers to socialising and recreation for people with blindness, which leads to loneliness and often a decline in their emotional well-being, Mulay said. “So, we decided to set up this group to provide an opportunity to socialise to keep them motivated and provide recreation. The motive is not to provide any clinical/ medical care or employment opportunity but to provide social and emotional support for adults with blindness,” Mulay added.

Storytelling, sharing circles, games, songs and sessions with psychologists will be the initial activities that this new support group for the visually challenged will conduct. “The aim for setting up the adult blindness support group is to keep them socially active, motivated and entertained,” Mulay added.

On Sunday, noted scientist Dr R A Mashelkar virtually attended the launch of this support group.

“The research on bionic eye is in the final phase. But it will still be a while for that technology to be available and affordable in India…I have full confidence that India will make it possible. If people with vision impairment work with determination to overcome the challenges they face, then nothing is impossible,” Mashelkar said.

Director of Jnana Prabodhini, Dr Girishrao Bapat, was also present at the launch and said social inclusion, recreation and emotional support are essential for every person’s emotional well-being.

The blindness support group will meet on the third Sunday of every month from 9.30 am to 11.30 am at Jnana Prabodhini Prashala Sadashiv Peth. This programme is supported by psychological counsellor Ketaki Redij, singer Vedangi Patwardhan, storyteller Aarati and social worker Vaishali Oak.

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