If a person with disability is given the required support by the society – he can do wonders! And of course family is the closest and most important part of the society to begin with. Approach of parents towards disability significantly affects the lives of children who are born with disability or acquire it at an early age. Afroz Ali and Hena Kausar present an ideal of how parents should approach the sensitive task of raising a child with disability.
Ali Afroz, the only child of Afroz Ali and Hena Kausar, has been declared the topper of All India Law Entrance Test 2018 in the differently-abled category. He has also made it to the first merit list of almost all prestigious law entrance exams this year including CLAT, SLAT, LSAT and CET. Ali is a partially sighted young man who was diagnosed with 90% blindness when he was just a year-and-a-half old baby.
With a remarkable academic journey to his credit, Ali has proved what he really believes in – “know your strength, don’t crib about your weakness — that won’t help!” What is most striking about him is his zeal to go beyond his own disability and work for the welfare of the masses; which clearly exhibits from his interest in careers like civil services and human rights. Not just academic achievements, Ali’s quick wit and clarity of thoughts will leave a long lasting impression on your mind. Hena, Ali’s mother, jovially refers to his quick witted intelligence as “Alipedia”.
Ali’s life journey reiterates that education is indeed the most important tool for a person with disability to fight off the challenges and hurdles that come in his way. Afroz and Hena very well knew the importance of education and they decided to help Ali in giving his best shot at becoming learned. Although the system kept on pushing them to send Ali to special schools — they made sure that Ali received his education from regular schools.
Success does not come easy to anyone. One of the biggest problems in the path of Ali’s education was the unavailability of screen-readable digital copies of his school books. Screen-readable books are those that a text-to-speech software (e.g. JAWS) could read out loud. There were hardly any screen readable version of the basic books until recent times. If some were available, navigation within such files was a difficult task. Further, getting screen readable versions of supplementary books was also a big problem.
Ali’s father, Afroz, took it on to himself to produce digital screen-readable versions of all the books that Ali needed in school. Afroz works at a senior management position in a multi-national company. His professional work is pretty demanding — but he has been a resolute man! He would work religiously on digitization of Ali’s school books after coming back from office.
“Whenever Ali would get new books for his school, my routine would become office, digitization, sleep… and repeat, “Afroz mentions.
“Scanning books of subjects like economics and English was relatively easier because these books mainly contained textual material. But digitization of mathematics and science books was a challenge. The screen reader would not be able to properly read equations and symbols. So, I had to ‘spell’ out these portions. For example, l = (+/-) a/root (a^2+b^2+c^2),” he added.
Ali’s mother, Hena, a teacher herself, does not limit her concerns to Ali or disability. She rather steps beyond and strongly advocates sensitisation of the society towards inclusiveness.
“It’s not just about Ali. Ali has been a bright child. So the schools have been treating him well. But what about those who are of average intellect or who need special attention? We are not making a society that is ready to accept inclusiveness until the time we are running the special schools. A society’s attributes and standards are known by the manner in which it treats its vulnerable sections,” She says.
American politician Jane Hull once quoted, “at the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents”. Ali’s parents prove these words true in every sense. Afroz and Hena made sure that Ali have access to all the resources he needed. Ali also responded by working hard. The commitment of this family proved that disability can be defeated if one focuses on abilities.
What’s more?! Ali’s parents did not keep their years of hard work to themselves. They have been providing these screen-readable NCERT books to whoever needs them. Just contact Afroz or Hena and ask for the books — and they will promptly send it by email. To support their mission, WeCapable will soon publish Ali’s Books and anybody would be able to download them.
WeCapable congratulates Afroz and Hena on their remarkable efforts. We wish the whole family a great future.