City-based group ‘Lit the Light’ is inspiring volunteers to lend their spare time to read out textbooks and record voice notes of the same to persons with visual impairment, thereby helping them prepare for examinations
On what led him to starting the group, Barath says, “I was part of reading sessions for a year in 2012, helping a visually impaired student at the Government High School in Poonamallee. The student had scored 960 in his Class 12 board examination, which made me realise that a little support can go a long way. I began volunteering more often. Even though I didn’t think of forming an organisation initially, it happened after two other friends of mine supported me. Our aim is to inspire volunteers to read and write for the visually impaired.”
Special schools for the blind are common only until high school and not beyond, notes Barath. “For the visually challenged, schooling takes place in Braille at these special schools only up to Class 8, after which they are expected to read and write regular text books. They require scribes to write examinations for them, and read these text books to prepare for the exams. So, we have been encouraging many first-time volunteers to give their spare time to read, write and record text books, so that the visually impaired person can refer to it anytime he or she wishes to,” he remarks.
The group holds reading sessions, wherein volunteers can sit with someone who cannot see and read out books from their curriculum. “Not many people are aware that they can help someone so much by just reading out. In Chennai alone, we have had over 1,000 volunteers being part of our group each year. We have also been hosting Lit the Light Read Fests, the next edition of which will be held in Chennai in March. For the fest, we encourage new volunteers to join us and read to the visually challenged,” elaborates Barath.
The group also hopes to help the visually impaired find employment opportunities by equipping them with necessary skills in future. “We have also been creating platforms for the visually challenged to showcase their talents,” he adds.