My Story- Divya Sharma
I, Divya Sharma, am a 24year old person with 75% vision impairment and suffering from severe Glaucoma. I am a Post Graduate in English Literature. I have done all my studies through correspondence. I had to leave school in class 8th as the school authorities didn’t permit me to continue. I do all my studies and work through screen readers like JAWS (Job access with speech). It reads everything that comes on the screen. I cannot read text or anything written on the paper or screen. .
I have recently received Punjab State Award on International Disability Day (December 2016) for my contribution in the field of disability and my achievements’. I have been given the 7th NCPEDP – Mphasis Universal Award by Honorable Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Sh. K P Gurjar, at New Delhi on 14th August 2016. I have been awarded for doing exemplary work to ensure a life of dignity for the people with disabilities. NCPEDP has been doing a phenomenal work in the disability field. Through these universal design awards, they have been appreciating the deeds of people who are working towards universal design.
My Initiative to Sensitize Society about People with Disabilities
Two years back on my birthday, I took a decision to sensitize people about persons with disabilities. I have always observed that despite so much development, people still carry a stereotype mindset. They are mostly sympathetic towards a person with disability. They are not aware of the developments and transformations which have been taking place in the community. Being a visually challenged person, I know how it feels when because of peoples’ lack of awareness, you have to suffer. My city has given me a lot. My childhood and life so far has been amazing in the lap of my beautiful city. But now it is time to pay back. I want to make my city aware about abilities of people with disabilities. I want to tell people loudly and clearly that we are not disabled, rather we just perform tasks differently. Being a visually challenged person with 80% of impairment, I had to leave school when I was in class 8th and no school in our area gave me admission because of lack of awareness. I don’t want any other person to go through any such experience. Similarly, I don’t want the schools to remain unaware about our ways of doing things, our abilities and about technology. With this vision of making people more empathetic, so far I have covered 4 main stream schools. My mission is to cover as many schools as I can. Earlier I used to think, how would I make a contribution in creating awareness in the absence of a team. But soon I realized that everybody can bring a change in society by putting his or her efforts.
The Path has not Been Really Rosy
When I began my sensitizing sessions, I prepared myself to deal with the negative response of schools and authorities. It was not at all easy. I faced the following potholes:
Main points of my Session are:
So far, my sessions are going great. I am glad that people have interest in knowing more about persons with disabilities. But the only thing I have to improve is to make sure that students come up openly. It is a general tendency that people and especially students waver to talk about disabilities. May be for a second, lack of response from students sometimes lowers my morale but I should not forget that such things take time, patience and dedication. I have to make sure that my determination to create awareness does not get effected by lack of queries. From time to time, I must remind myself, “Look Divya everything begins with a short bit. And every such bit makes a huge impact. You have to keep yourself firm and this is something which cannot be gained in a blink of eye. Keep trying and somewhere these short efforts will bring a big change in the lives of people. Stay truthful to yourself and your purpose. ”
No matter how occupied I was in my studies or am now in my job, I do steal some hours for these session because I know it will make an impact. Whenever I carry out these sensitizing sessions, I just carry my laptop and mobile phone. This way, I am not dependent on anybody or any financial assistance. I just share with people and acquaint them with the new perspectives and practices.
I would like to conclude that it has always been challenging to change the view point of people at grass root but still I am glad that I am getting a positive response from the people, more than my expectations. Every single bit of awareness in the society is taking me closer to my purpose.
I am an RJ with Radio Udaan since its beginning in February 2015. It is an online Radio Station run by visually challenged people. I host a weekly motivational show ‘Inspirational Wings’ and two other shows. I am a content writer, a motivational speaker and an English trainer. I regularly write for magazines on awareness issues. I also conduct sensitization sessions in main stream schools. I was given the title of ‘Wonder Girl of Himachal’ at Shimla Press Conference in April 2014. I also gave a motivational presentation in the 1st International Film Festival for Persons with Disabilities held in New Delhi in December 2015. I am a guitarist and have recently achieved an Orange Belt in Karate.
My aim is to bridge a gap between persons with disabilities and general community!