Vashkar makes their dream come true | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, August 05, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, August 05, 2009

Vashkar makes their dream come true

The person with disability sets a unique example

Vashkar Bhattacharya delivers a speech in the opening session of a training programme. Photo: STAR

Vashkar Bhattacharya, a visually impaired, provided training to 20 persons with disabilities (PWD) in 2006 as they could not find the jobs despite having graduation from different public universities.
All the jobless PWDs, including eight female graduates, got jobs in last three years based on their merit applying information, communication and technology (ICT) skills gained by the training.
They are now working at different organisations, including a private university and some national and international NGOs working in Bangladesh.
This initiative has proved that PWDs can work like others if they are provided with necessary training, especially in technology, said Vashkar, a programme officer of local NGO Young Power in Social Action (YPSA).
“All the 20 were sitting idle after completing their study at different public universities due to lack of access to technology,” he pointed out.
Provided with the facilities, the persons with disabilities have proved that providing education and imparting training to them are not worthless, he said adding, "But I feel sorry as no such training could be arranged later to change the lives of disabled people. Because, Tk 15-20 lakh is needed to arrange such a training."
Had government taken the initiative of arranging such training programme for PWDs in the country, the life of educated PWDs would be much more easier and dignified.
But this example as usually has failed to attract any attention either from the government or from non-government organisations. As a result, it is still a dream for PWDs to manage a job.
Vashkar now passes each moment of his life with the dream of making information technology available to the PWDs and make them, specially blind and illiterates, resource people of the country.
“I have never even thought that I would be able to use computer in my life,” Vashkar told The Daily Star in an interview while describing how he grew interest in ICT for helping his country's fellow friends.
He said he learned about ICT while studying under a scholarship programme in Japan from where he came to know about digital accessible information system (Daisy) concept.
It was not that easy for a blind to brave such an initiative when his classmates at the scholarship programme laughed at him saying that blind people cannot come in any help in Bangladesh without begging.
On his return home Vashkar had continued working on ICT and issues related to it, keeping the authorities of Braille library and Daisy consortium in Japan informed about the development of his work.
In the meantime, Vashkar who was graduated in history from Chittagong University had organised various programmes like Braille essay competitions, discussions and seminars focusing on the blind people and their problems.
As a result, authorities of Braille library came in Bangladesh in 2004 while Daisy in 2005 for providing assistance to set up an ICT and resource centre in Chittagong for PWDs.
Vashkar did not stop his endeavour at that point and kept pursuing his study concerning Daisy and ICT and made digital talking books using short stories of Rabindranath Tagore and other forms.
Now both visually impaired and illiterate people have the chance to know what Tagore talked about life. Vashkar has also brought screen-reading software to make it possible to read any script on computer screen and even read online edition of newspapers.
Vashkar, currently in charge of the first Daisy focal point in Bangladesh, hoped that a Braille library and a centre would be set up in Bangladesh one day for the blind people for providing them education, and hands-on training in computers as well as opportunity of learning Bangladeshi culture.
Bhattacharjee was also an active participant in the hunger strike programme observed in protest against the refusal of admission of PWDs to Dhaka University. This programme had forced the university to allow their admission.

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