Posts by Anusha Reddy

IDAP Interview Series: Interview X with Nirmita Narasimhan

By on Sep 26, 2017 in Blog | 1 comment

IDAP Interview Series: Interview X with Nirmita Narasimhan

Our next interview in this series features Nirmita Narasimhan, a Policy Director with the Centre for Internet and Society. Nirmita did her LL.B. from Campus Law Centre, Delhi University in 2002. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in German and a Ph.D. in Music. As a part of CIS she has done extensive work on web accessibility and was involved in drafting the Indian National Policy on Universal Electronic Accessibility. She has worked closely with different departments of the Government of India to bring accessibility into their policies and programmes. In recognition of her path-breaking work in the field of digital accessibility, she has received numerous awards such as the National Award for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (2010), the NIVH (National Institute for the Visually Handicapped) Excellence Award (2011) and the NCPEDP-Emphasis Universal Design award in 2016. She played a key role in amending the Indian Copyright Act to incorporate exceptions for people with print disabilities and launched the widely acclaimed nationwide Right to Read campaigns. Nirmita’s experience is not just limited to policy work – she is a widely published author and has assisted national and international bodies in the creation of several reports on promoting accessibility rights of people with disabilities. This interview was conducted by Madhavi Singh and Anusha Reddy. The interview was transcribed by Veda Singh, IDIA intern and student at Jindal Global Law School. The interview has been lightly edited for clarity.  Could you please describe to us the exact nature of your disability? I have something called Stargardt disease. For me it came when I was 9 or so. When I started, I could read with the help of a magnifying glass and I would enlarge things to read and now I completely rely on screen reading software. Could you please describe to us the reasonable accommodation provided by your school and college, if any? In school nothing! I used to read and write using a magnifying glass –reading was a bit of a struggle. My handwriting was really bad and people didn’t understand it. I never asked for anything. Only for my Board exams I had asked for a writer because that’s something you really can’t risk. Most schools use boards to teach. How did you manage? No, it just depended on the individual teacher and maybe I was also very inhibited at that time in my life. I wouldn’t go up to the teacher and simply say “please read it out.” Consequently, I always regretted that I was not good at math, because it was always on the board. I managed back then with the help of my parents and sister. You have a large number of educational qualifications to your name. You initially studied German and Carnatic music and only pursued law later. What factors influenced you in deciding to study law? It may not be anything glamourous as really being passionate about it. But going back to German – I really liked the language, and more so due to the teaching methods because this was the first time I was out of a classroom setting into a setting where there were 10-12 students and the teachers were really good and used unconventional methods. They were accommodative about exams. The teacher could write exams for me or tell me what to do – it was not like a fixed system. Whenever a system came into play, inaccessibility also came into play. Whenever it was an individual, and usually somebody who was not heartless, it was pretty okay. One time in an exam, they gave a printout, and I couldn’t...

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IDAP Interview Series: Interview IX with Rajesh Asudani

By on Jun 12, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

IDAP Interview Series: Interview IX with Rajesh Asudani

In this IDAP interview, we interview Rajesh Asudani. Born into a family with four blind siblings and limited means, Asudani has displayed immense grit and determination throughout his life to beat the odds against him. Despite having an academic record par excellence in his law college and many awards and honors to his name, Asudani began his career as a railway announcer. Not one to lament, Asudani quickly turned the tide in his favour and secured a job of an Assistant General Manager at the RBI. Asudani speaks to us in great detail about how financial constraints deterred him from studying in a national law school and from practicing law in the courts. Unlike our other interviews, Asudani’s frank and insightful answers show us that despite having fire in one’s belly, limited resources can significantly deter one from fulfilling his/her potential. As readers may know, 9 IDIA Scholars from marginalized communities have secured admission to top law schools this year. These students have fought against all odds to reach this position and we at IDIA do not want our scholars’ potential to be limited due to financial constraints. You can play a significant role in ensuring the same by supporting our students. This interview was conducted by Rahul Bajaj and transcribed by Anusha Reddy and Veda Singh (IDIA intern and second year student studying at Jindal Global Law School). The interview has been edited for clarity. Firstly, can you provide our readers with a brief background of your schooling and educational qualifications? In addition, given that accessible technology was not readily available during your days in school and college, was braille your principal means of acquiring information? I belong to a family where 5 out of 8 siblings were blind from birth. I’m the youngest of all and I have two brothers and two sisters who are blind as well. When I started studying, there was precedent as my brothers and sisters were already studying in the local blind boys institute in Nagpur. Naturally, I was also sent there in the year 1982 and I completed my 7th standard from that institute in 1989. Thereafter, I went to a mainstream sighted school. The year 1988 was a watershed year for me. My two elder brothers Ganshyam and Vinod, figured in the general merit list of SSC matriculation. For the first time in India a blind person made it to the general merit list of the state examination. People took notice of the fact that blind people can also perform. As you know, media was restricted to newspapers and government channels of radio and TV back then. We were featured in the national news and the films division of the government also made a documentary on the Asudani brothers. When it comes to me, however, I was not a very bright student initially. I remember in my fourth standard I scored a big zero in my unit test examination. But gradually, my interest picked up, particularly in my fifth standard when English was introduced as a subject. I only I learnt the ‘ABCs’ in my fifth standard (laughs). Moreover, when Ghanshyam and Vinod figured in the merit list, it provided me an impetus to excel. I studied hard and in my 10th standard examination in 1992, I was ranked second in the order of merit, in the state-wide general merit list. After my 10th standard, I pursued arts. I was interested in science but at that point, in India particularly, there was hardly any assistive technology or scope in science, making it impossible for blind students to pursue science 25 years ago. Today,...

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IDAP Interview Series: Interview VIII with Senior Advocate SK Rungta

By on Mar 22, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

IDAP Interview Series: Interview VIII with Senior Advocate SK Rungta

We began this interview series with the principal objective of curating insights from lawyers with disabilities who can serve as ‘waypavers’ and ‘pathmarkers’ for law students and young lawyers with disabilities, in India and beyond. It would be no exaggeration to state that few people fit that description better than our next interviewee, Senior Advocate Santosh Kumar Rungta. Blind since birth, SK Rungta has surmounted challenges most would consider insurmountable and has successfully defied, and continues to defy, what most would consider incredibly difficult odds. Senior Advocate Rungta’s accomplishments would be noteworthy even if he was merely a practicing lawyer – he was conferred with the prestigious senior advocate title by the Delhi High Court in 2011 – but what sets him apart is the fact that he has generously devoted his skills and energy to breaking down many barriers that have prevented the disabled from realizing their full potential.

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IDAP Interview Series: Interview VII with David Lepofsky

By on Mar 6, 2017 in Blog | 1 comment

IDAP Interview Series: Interview VII with David Lepofsky

Lepofsky, a highly distinguished Canadian lawyer who happens to be blind. Born in 1957, David graduated from the Osgoode Hall Law School with honours in 1979 and obtained a Masters of Law from the highly prestigious Harvard Law School in 1982. Thereafter, up to 2015, David practiced law with the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General in such diverse areas of law as constitutional, administrative and criminal law.

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IDAP Interview Series: Interview VI with Richard Chen

By on Feb 22, 2017 in Blog | 1 comment

IDAP Interview Series: Interview VI with Richard Chen

Richard is a highly accomplished counsel in the corporate and securities practice group at Arnold & Porter LLP. He received his B.A. with honors from Harvard College and he then went on to graduate from Harvard Law School in 1998. In this interview, Richard speaks to us, at length, about his corporate career spanning over 18 years and the challenges that he faced and overcame in college and at his workplace.

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