Children of the visually impaired face hardship

Fifteen-year-old Dinesh Karthik has been running errands for his visually-impaired parents while missing his online classes.

“When our priority is to first get something to eat for the family and meet emergency expenses, how can I ask them to buy me a laptop or a smartphone? I feel guilty,” he said.

Like him, many children of the visually impaired, who have lost jobs and are already suffering without any income owing to the lockdown, are struggling without a smartphone or a laptop to attend online classes.

Dinesh, who has been studying in a private school in Kundrathur, said, “So far, my parents, with the help of several well wishers, managed to pay the fees, but this term, a huge amount remains unpaid.”

Similarly, Mini Annalamai, a visually-impaired person, said that she had been requesting the school to give them time to pay.

K. Mercy, a Class X student at a private school in Kundrathur, has been helping her mother with chores. “My father, who is visually impaired, used to earn a meagre amount, but this has been affected by the lockdown. We are not in a position to buy a smartphone. I’m hoping that my friends will help and I will eventually be able to catch up with the lessons,” she said. Her parents too have not been able to pay the fees and have taken time extension from the school.

R. Diwakar lost his sister some months back and his family has not coped with the grief yet. His father, a visually-impaired person, has lost his job now. Despite all this, he still does his best to keep up with his lessons. “I don’t have a laptop or a smartphone. So, every day, I go to my friend’s place to use his phone to study,” he added.

Dharani Raj, a visually-impaired student pursuing masters in history from college in Nandanam, said that his father is a construction worker, earning ₹600 a day, near Gudiyatham. “My online classes began two weeks back. I have been asking help from people I know to spare a laptop so that I can begin with the lessons. I hope someone agrees,” he added.

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