“There is no greater disability in the society, than the inability to see a person as more.”
~ Robert M. Hensel
IIM Bangalore is soon set to be the battle arena for the 4th season of the Blind Cricket League. Over 320 “visually impaired” cricketers, participating from 16 districts of Karnataka, are set to stump the audience with their sportsmanship at the Blind Cricket League. The event is being organized by the IDL Foundation and the final match will be co-hosted by Vikasana, a social service initiative by students of IIM Bangalore and the sports council of IIMB.
In the run up to the event, we decided to talk with the visually impaired students of the current 1st year PGP batch about their journey so far, their dreams and discuss about the measures taken by IIM Bangalore to make its campus more inclusive.
“I have been here in Bangalore all my life,” says Kunal Mehta, who joined the 2019 batch of IIM Bangalore. Earlier, he attended a school for blind till 7th standard and later decided to join a normal school. He completed his Bachelor of Business Management (BBM) from Christ University and went on to secure the role of Analyst with the services division (finance division) of Goldman Sachs. “I had a good time at Goldman, the experience was great.”
Talking about the inclusion measures here at IIM Bangalore, Kunal said that a mail is sent by the Office of Disability Services (ODS) to the professors of all the courses he has registered, informing them about his condition and special needs. He is also given the soft copy of slides and other teaching material before the class by each faculty. In addition, an FPM student is assigned as a tutor to help him to understand concepts.
However, its not always easy. Kunal finds it difficult whenever the professor uses a board to teach the class. Though images of the content of the board can be made available, things are lost as software is not optimized enough to read through an image. Thus, subjects like Decision sciences, which are predominantly taught using a board become difficult. In addition, he feels that things are quite fast paced here in comparison to undergrad, which makes it hard to catch up and get someone else to explain him. In undergrad, people had more time in general and there were study holidays before examinations.
On the question whether a separate exam should be conducted for students with special needs, where things can be made slightly easier, he said that “Easier things here in college, would not help in life later, where everyone has to compete on equal footing.”
Kunal said that he is quite happy with IIMB’s focus on inclusion. It is much better than that of his undergrad or previous schools. However, he wished he had access to a navigation system inside IIM Bangalore, which could help him traverse more easily around the campus. Though there is no formal feedback system in place, he says that the administration is quite receptive to his needs.
Kunal states that IIMB’s focus on inclusion is one of the major reasons he chose IIM Bangalore over Ahmedabad or Calcutta. According to Rishi Sood, another student of the PGP batch of 2019, he was impressed with IIMB’s efforts and commitment. He described his interview experience as, “The interview panel was very interested to know which tricks and hacks I had used so that they can incorporate them for their students. They said that whether you join us or not, we would like to sit down with you and have a chat.” This caring attitude made the choice clear for Rishi.
We still have a long way to go and need to do much more and events like BCL re-enforce the belief that if they can fight such uphill battles with such hope and rigor, we can too.