Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Jugalbandi Cricket match and Blind Walk Guides

On Jan 20th, 2017, the World Cup T 20 Blind Cricket Team of India played with the senior school students of The Sri Ram School - Moulasari campus. This match was a collaboration between Esha, The Shri Ram School, and Samarthanam.

And today, at the Shri Ram School, Aravali, we conducted a Blind Walk to create guides for the Blind Walk. Faculty members and 11th grade students learnt how to guide participants in a Blind Walk. Was it fun!
The Blind Walk Guides' Workshop at The Shri Ram School

Learning to be Blind Walk guides

The student volunteers who will guide Grade 6 participants next week

The T 20 team of India enjoying the hospitality of The Shri Ram School at lunch

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year from Esha - and our 2016 roundup



It’s that time of the year again, when we wish you a Happy New Year from Esha, and share with you our year’s work in a few bullet points.


2016 has been a momentous year for most parts of the world, and we hope that you have a lovely 2017. One that is better than 2016 in every way.


Here is what we did at Esha in this year.

  1. The library – Our online library went from 4916 files to 6034 files. That’s a growth of about 22% Yoy and 18% of the entire library has been added in the last year alone. (www.braillecards.org/audio.php)
  2. The CLABIL Outreach Program – This year, we had an audacious idea – to take the library directly to the people who will benefit from this content. To take their inputs and make the library better. This dream was made possible through the grant by Indiabulls Foundation, facilitated by my friend and batchmate – Sorabh. Through this grant, we were able to take the content of CLABIL directly to 48,000 listeners in remote parts of the country. We learnt a lot from the experience. We also got some new user groups – Muscular Dystrophy and Learning disability, for instance.
  3. This year, we ran our largest ever Summer Project yet. We processed over 120 applications, selected 45 and they had 6 projects to choose from. A lot of the content on CLABIL came from our summer interns. We had one volunteer who interned on social media management and was able to meet social media metrics for Twitter, Facebook and also SEO. This was a rare chance when a student got independent responsibility for Social Media metrics. The best thing about the project was that the project management office was also staffed by the interns through remote collaboration. We are sure that we can do a bigger, better summer program next year. More details here.
  4. Work as usual also grew. We worked with some more organisations that wanted inclusive braille cards, while our existing clients continued to support and share our work. 2 government departments also had their cards braille enabled this year. The best part about all this is that(as usual) we did no advertising or soliciting of business. Theater workshops saw a duller than usual year, but we hope to change that this year.
  5. The Blind Walks, Blind school visits and other sensitisation programs continued with the same zeal and elicited the same beautiful response. The Sri Ram School students’ visit to the blind school this year was phenomenal. We hope to also help  conduct a jugalbandi cricket tournament next year with the T20 blind cricket team of India and the students of The Sri Ram School, Gurgaon.
  6. Tour De Vision 2016 saw a 33% growth in participation from TDV2015. Under Rajesh Dhuddu’s guidance and with the hard work of SOIL students, we are on track for Tour De Vision 2017 – bigger, better and more powerful. If you are a cyclist, or know one, please share our sensitisation and fundraising initiative at www.tourdevision.org . Registrations are now open for 5th February, 2017 and we hope to make Tour De Vision one of its kind event for sensitisation, attracting cyclists from all over country and who knows, perhaps also doing it in parallel at other locations. We are also looking for sponsorships for this event.
  7. Our existing partnerships continue to grow and be strong – SOIL, The Sri Ram School, We4U, Suno, Samarthanam, NAB Center for Women and others. Some new friendships were forged this year – ISDM, Sankara Nethralaya is setting up an audio library on premise, iVolunteer will now offer Esha volunteering options to corporates who wish to devote their time, as will Ennovate Global. I4V was forged as an alliance of 4 organisations to work with disability in the Vidarbha region. Esha is one of the 4 core partners.  These are the major partnerships. There are more. J
  8. We got extensive media coverage this year. We were on the Independence Day special of Times Now channel and in an earlier broadcast that was made in 80 countries,  The Reader’s Digest, Femina (both Hindi and English editions), Radio Mirchi Bangalore, The Better India (This story was shared 8000 times and went on to become one of the best shared stories on the website), the Times of India, Chitralekha (Gujarati weekly from Mumbai) and Famousparenting.com


What we hope to do next year

  1. We are currently working on a mobile app for CLABIL that is, by design, for our primary users – those who cannot see and those who cannot read. Most apps are designed for the sighted and then used by the VI through a screenreader. This app is being designed for our core users. It’s the first that I am aware of. Obviously, as design goes, it’s a challenge and an opportunity. I am very excited about how the app is shaping up and we hope to share a sneak preview on the blog soon.
  2. The website needs an urgent revamp. We have been trying to do this rather unsuccessfully for at least 2 years. We need a website that is responsive and mobile friendly and not cluttered, so that the screenreader can aid navigation too.  Someone who can understand the challenges of screenreader navigation and work with us to smoothen that.


What we need help with

  1. Testers for the mobile app – we need as many different types of users as possible to test the app during its development. As you can imagine, I use Agile for development and there is plenty of scope to rework and retest the features.
  2. Esha is what it is because of Friends of Esha. As ever, please spread the word, share the library, donate your voice, donate a small monthly sum towards our operational expenses, get Blind Walks and Theater Workshops done for your organisations, get your cards Braille enabled. Anything at all. The corporate deck of esha is here. And the blog is at www.eshabraille.blogspot.com
  3. Participation and sponsorship for Tour De Vision 2017. If you can think of someone who may want to sponsor, please write to me or speak to Amit Kalia at 09871559179.


I truly cannot end this email without thanking the Universe. And You.  We all know that we have all built Esha – brick by brick. Piece by piece. One file at a time. One card at a time. One talk at a time.


We have taken time to talk, to write, to spread the word, to contribute our time and money, to send our cards, to mentor people, to partner. To do a lot of small things that add up.


This time of the year is for reconnaissance. As we do that, we become aware of how much there is to be grateful for. May it always remain this way.


In 2017, I wish you more gratitude.