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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont

A Tricycle Runs A Family Of Ten

When Arvindbhai Gamtibhai Vaghri, who cannot walk, received a tricycle from the disability advocacy group VOSAP, it was a game changer for him. “I will sell garlic on this tricycle all over Amrevadi and surrounding areas,” he exclaimed.

Arvindbhai supports a family of three sisters, five brothers, and his mother by peddling his tricycle from morning until evening, earning anywhere from Rs. 6,000 to Rs. 7,000 a month.

The tricycle gives Arvindbhai Vaghri a means to support himself. Image credit: VOSAP.

Redefining The Idea Of A Disabled Person

VOSAP (Voice of Specially Abled People), the disability advocacy group whose stated mission is to “redefine the idea of a disabled person,” raised Rs. 6 crore (approximately USD 741,000) during the recent Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav from donors in the Los Angeles area.

Overcoming Mobility Impairment

Narayanan was working in a local shop in Adarsh Nagar, Vadgaon. What he really dreamt of was to gain independence through sewing clothes. VOSAP offered him a sewing machine, providing him the chance to be a business owner rather than staff. Being a person with mobility impairment, going out for a job was not an easy task for him. This sewing machine gave him the choice to work from the comfort of his home and earn a livelihood with dignity. Now Narayanan is able to sew a pair of shirt and pant in a day. He earns a monthly profit of about Rs. 8,000 to 9,000, working from his home.

Aartiben Sadhu is another recipient of a sewing machine. Image credit: VOSAP

More Than An App, It Is My Eyes

Mayank Chaudhary, a young lad from Sabarkantha district, Gujarat lives with a genetic condition called retinitis pigmentosa. A rare eye disease, it affects a person’s retina, preventing them from reading printed papers and handwritten notes. The launch of the Kibo app, which is designed to help people with visual impairment, has improved his life in immeasurable ways.

Mayank gets emotional when he explains the features of the app. “Kibo is not just an application, but eyes for people like me.” He loves the pdf-recognizing OCR feature the most. He explains that this feature can easily and correctly read tables too. He’s grateful to VOSAP for giving him a free three-year subscription to the app.

Image Credit: VOSAP

Smart Phone As Assistive Device

Asha Rathore is a partially blind student in Grade 7 of Lion’s Girls School. She comes from a very small village on the outskirts of Vadodara District. A daughter of a farmer, she aspires to become a teacher, and help children with visual impairments learn and use technology for education.

Just before the Covid pandemic, Asha received a smartphone as part of a VOSAP initiative. With the assistive device, she was able to continue her education uninterrupted. She learnt Zoom and emailing and was able to use these to write her exams. Post Covid, when she rejoined her school, she was enthusiastic to learn what more she can do with the device.

Asha is using the device to learn skills like multi-language (Hindi, Gujarati, English) typing on notepads, using email correctly, watching educational videos, identifying currency using the money app, and using TalkBack effectively. A Google screen reader available on Android devices, TalkBack gives the user spoken feedback for what you tap, select and activate on the screen, so that you can use your device without looking at it.

This is just one example of the transformative power of assistive technology.

Appeal For Funds

At a VOSAP fundraiser in Los Angeles.

VOSAP has enabled and empowered over 13,000 Specially Abled People (SAP) in the last five years, says founder, Pranav Desai. At the gathering in Los Angeles, he hoped to raise enough funds to enable about 7500 Specially Abled People (SAP) in the coming year.

Donors who pledged their support during the event included Manu Shah, Chairman MSI Surfaces ($251,000), Manoj and Tejal Mehta ($75,000), Raj Rana (1st lifetime donor of VOSAP with $15,000 or more every year), Shirish Dayal of Tarsadia Foundation ($50,000), Dr. Jayashree and Dr. Mahesh Vyas ($75,000).


Rasana Atreya

Rasana Atreya’s debut novel Tell A Thousand Lies was shortlisted for the UK-based Tibor Jones South Asia Prize (2012). She finds a mention in the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque’s "Emerging South...