Friday, January 22, 2016

Founder's Note - Why Tour De Vision is Important

Some of you have participated in a Blind Walk perhaps. If you haven't, just close your eyes and try to walk at any normal public place - the park in front of your house, a tourist attraction in your city - anything at all. And you will know how accessible our public places are.
I have always maintained that we are a small part of society - small, but hopefully, not insignificant.

When we do Blind Walks, Theater Workshops and our biggest event - Tour De Vision, we take tiny, but important steps towards an inclusive, sensitised citizen population. Every person on the road who thinks about an inclusive road is an important part of an inclusive society.

Our riders raise funds for the cause of Esha (this year, we are focusing on the CLABIL Outreach project), but more importantly, they carry the message of an inclusive society.

When you contribute for your friends, when you share this on our own facebook page, when you hold a braille card in your hand, or close your eyes in the park for 2 minutes, when you count the stairs going up or down - be sure of one thing - what you are doing is not time consuming - and it's very, very significant. Our thoughts make our society. Inclusive thoughts make inclusive societies.

Tour De Vision 2016... More Power to Inclusion!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Blind Walk at Cyber Hub!!

“Walk by faith even when you can’t see, as it holds enough light for those who want to believe”

Blind walks give us an opportunity to experience the difficulty in accessing the public spaces when one lacks sight. Sometimes in our busy routine we tend to forget our basic responsibilities. An inclusive environment for our fellow beings is something that’s long forgotten. A brilliant design, be it of any product or business should be thought about keeping in mind not only the masses but also the extreme users of the product. Activities like blind walk remind us our responsibilities.

We had conducted 3 blind walks last year in Galleria and Leisure Valley. We planned to conduct one at the busy Cyber Hub to engage the corporate employees in the social experiment. The response we received was different from the other two walks. In our previous walks we received immediate interest for volunteering and experiencing the walk from the public. In cyber hub, on a busy Wednesday afternoon the corporate employees showed less enthusiasm in joining the walk as they were busy with their daily routine and schedule at work. We wanted to grasp their attention and make them experience the walk.

We were 10 volunteers from Esha and SOIL, we demonstrated the walk to the crowd. There was one volunteer from the crowd who was curious and agreed to participate. Slowly it turned out that many folks were interested in trying it out. Around 50 corporate employees participated. Group of friends, colleagues who had come for a team get-together, reporters from media started joining the walk.

We got diverse responses from the participants after the walk. Some were surprised, some were taken aback, some struggled to cross a stretch, some had to be guided for every step they kept, some walked really fast bumping into the crowd. There was this one person who came up to us and gave his mail id and asked us to call him when we conduct other events. Overall it was an enriching experience that had sensitized the corporate mass at the cyber hub.

The media coverage helped us share the message to a wider audience. Gurgaon Times, NavBharat Times, Times of India Gurgaon and Bhaskar News Gurgaon covered the walk. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Esha's 12th year.. and a lot to look forward to!

Writing the year end note of Esha is always such a pleasure. As you probably know, we finished 11 years this January 5. This year, I hope to share our recap of the previous year, and also our plans for the year ahead.

This year, our existing partnerships- SOIL, The Sri Ram School and Copal Partners continued to remain strong and we were fortunate to partner with Abhay Mohanta of We4U. They have contributed a whopping 900 files covering an entire gamut of academic content in Oriya. So now our Oriya friends can expect a windfall as soon as we are done cataloging.

 Some other partnerships are being discussed as we speak, and I am particularly excited about some of them. Keeping fingers crossed, and hoping that we are able to add them in the next year’s pipeline. 

 ·         On Theater workshops, Raju has concluded another successful year. Thanks to Maithreyi, a friend of Esha, and Mr. Sharad Agarwal, we did 10 workshops across 5 PSBB Schools in South India. The feedback was positive and it was the biggest single order of the year for Raju.

·         On CLABIL, we are closing the year with a very successful 4916 files. This year,we had to take the painful decision to delink the files from our partner site – inclusiveplanet. The site has been down since its Founder, Rahul Cherian, tragically passed away. We were waiting and hoping for a revival, but looks like that may never happen.

·         Tour De Vision 2016 is on track.. this year, it promises to be bigger, better, with many more participants.

·         We did the Painting Workshop at the Junta Blind School again this year. You won’t believe me if I tell you that we can close our eyes and draw flowers, leaves and even basic landscapes. But its possible. And if you are participating in the TDV this year, or if you were with us last year, you have held, or will hold, such a card in your hands.
It IS possible to draw without seeing. Our painting workshop at the Junta Blind School.
·         We also did the Blind Walk in a big way. Not only did we complete 5 Blind Walks in 2015 (getting enough press for most of them), but also that SOIL would like their alumni to  do the Blind Walk wherever they are. So watch out for Blind Walk in Bangalore and Chennai soon! It’s a very simple thing – choose a public place, give people canes and ask them to navitage the place with their eyes cloed. 5 minutes of this activity enlightens people to the fact that our public spaces are inaccessible. Each Blind Walk sensitises at least 100 people.
Creating More Inclusive Public Spaces is EVERYONE's responsibility

·         Our Festive Braille Cards managed to generate awareness in at least 10,000 people who had never seen a Braille Card before. As people tagged their gifts with these beautiful cards that say “Happy Diwali”, “Season’s Greetings”,  and “Happy Birthday” , we saw a small but significant change.
Braille Cards that truly make your gifts stand out.
·         Read Fests were a delight too. This year, we generated almost 500 files from the various Read Fests held at schools, colleges and offices. 


And in the year 2016, our focus areas will be:

CLABIL Outreach
 Taking CLABIL to everyone who can benefit from it. We plan to cover the country, taking the audio content with us. We will try to reach Gram Panchayats, village children, slum children in urban areas, and of course, blind schools. When we close the 12th year of esha, it is my fervent hope and desire that CLABIL will have reached at least 10,000 beneficiaries who are using it regularly, and at least 1 lakh children who have access to it and are aware. These are 2 separate targets – outreach is 1 lakh over the next year, and repeat users are to reach 10,000. It’s a massive target for an organisation that has at best done exploratory outreach so far, so you can wish us luck. This is why, this year, funds are going to be important to esha.
Creating Inclusive Citizens of tomorrow
In 2015, through Blind Walk, Blind School visits and Theater Workshops, at least 1000 Citizens of tomorrow became Inclusive Human Beings. This year, we hope to keep the momentum on that, and at least double that figure. That might look like a small number, but our inclusion efforts are not educational. They are experiential. Every child experiences special ability and at the end of that experience, they are truly transformed. Every child’s experience needs special attention, so I will not target aggressive numbers on this one.

 So there, those are our focus areas for next year.

Thank you, once again, for every ounce of support. It has helped Esha live for 11 years. As the 12th year begins, and we become more audacious, that support will mean a lot more. And honestly, I don’t know how to end this email. So Happy New Year, and Happy 11th to all of us. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Painting Workshop at Junta Blind Centre

Esha conducted its Annual painting workshop at Junta Blind Centre, Gurgaon. I was one of the facilitators for the workshop and what I learnt was something I would like to share.
The students at the training centre who had newly joined with an average age of 20 had never painted before. Art and painting which is a representation of visual impression is something they feel is not for them. The students were sceptic and smiled asking us not to embarrass them which just shook us up.

We felt Art, Sports and other activities are for all and neglecting them for disability is also a form of non-inclusion which is equally important as working for an inclusive environment outside.

There are relatively easy art adaptations to make it accessible to students who are visually challenged. The students can explore a variety of art materials, the activity can be made more tactual for them to touch and feel.

Verbal instruction on the simple steps of making a card:
  •   Fold the ends of the paper and feel the ends to ensure the corners are in alignment
  •  Bring the front side on top
  • Ensure students understand what they are going to paint (house, mountains, sun, flowers or butterflies). It is fine to not produce exactly the same image as it appears in reality which will limit their imagination. The association can be taught through Art.
  • Location of the art materials to be informed to the students by helping them look at them with their hands and fingers
  • Using fingers to measure as you draw and paint them with thumbs and brushes
  • Using tactful borders using crayons or markers which can be felt and painting can be done within the boundary
  • Vegetable painting – Ladies finger, onions and beans to make beautiful tulip flowers and butterflies by painting on the veggies and printing their impression
  • Finger painting – Tearing and folding paper, painting with fingers and feeling the image develops hand strength for the kids
  • Scent and other pleasant fragrance can be added to the paint to get a better feel

The students had a wonderful day more than making greeting cards they enjoyed painting and got rid of their inhibitions.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

This Week.. TourDeVision Prep Begins !

This was an awesome week.

First, there was the Chess Jugalbandi, being conducted by the Astha Foundation. In this event, the VI and the sighted players play in the same tournament. And what fun it is!

Astha Jugalbandi 2015 Event in Delhi
Astha Jugalbandi 2015 Event in Delhi/Gurgaon

 Then, we did our Annual Event - The Painting Workshop at the Junta Blind School for the students. This workshop was conducted by the SOIL Students, and I am amazed at the output of the students. We don't throw these cards away - we use them to say "Thank you" during Tour De Vision. So if you are participating, you will get one too.

This is how we paint - using our fingers to mark as we draw, and wet brushes to paint! Esha Painting Workshop at the Junta Blind Center, Gurgaon

This is how we paint - using our fingers to mark as we draw, and wet brushes to paint! Esha Painting Workshop at the Junta Blind Center, Gurgaon

This is how we paint - using our fingers to mark as we draw, and wet brushes to paint! Esha Painting Workshop at the Junta Blind Center, Gurgaon

This is how we paint - using our fingers to mark as we draw, and wet brushes to paint! Esha Painting Workshop at the Junta Blind Center, Gurgaon

And the third thing that happened was that work has started in full sing for the next Tour de Vision - our annual cycling event to raise awareness about Blindness and lack of public spaces access. We also raise funds through this event.

So if you are in town on the 7th of Feb, 2016, you absolutely must make it to the Shiv Nadar School - anytime upto 11 am is great. There will be a cycling event, and some other great surprises to showcase Ability.

Here's to more!


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Jugalbandi Chess Championship and National Blind Cricket Tournament - December 2015

This December is going to be a Sports Fiesta.

From 17th to the 20th of December, we will see the National Cricket Tournament for the Blind.

Teams participating in the Nationals are as follows:
 North zone: Haryana & Uttar Pradesh, East zone: Odisha & West Bengal
West zone: Gujarat & Rajasthan and South zone: Andhra Pradesh & Karnataka
 These teams will be divided into 2 groups will play the league matches, top 2 teams of each group will qualify for the Semi Finals.
Ground are as follows:
Ground A will be Civil Services ground, Chanakyapuri, near Ashoka Hotel, Delhi & Ground B will be Tau Devilal Stadium Gurgaon.
 17th to 19th of December 2 matches at each ground 1st match from 9 AM to 12.30 PM 2nd match from 1 PM to 4.30 PM.
20th December Semi Final match at each ground from 9 AM to 12.30 PM.
21st December Final match at Civil Services ground, Chanakyapuri, near Ashoka Hotel, Delhi from 10 AM to 1.30 PM.
Prize distribution will commence at 2.30 PM.
For Details:
 For any further information regarding tournament please feel free to get in touch with Mr. John David at +91-9449864785 or Email:
Jugalbandi Chess Tournament
Astha Foundation ( is working on transforming lives through sports.

Once in a year they conduct unique sports activity called Jugalbandi Sports - that allows people with and without disability to come together for a common purpose and understand each other  and  support each other.

One such sports event is CHESS Jugalbandi . Tentative date for the Chess Jugalbandi is 20th Dec 2015.
  • There are no charges for participation.
  • You can participate from your school/institution or as individual.
  • Transportation will be provided.
  • CASH PRIZES of Rs 30000 to distributed among all + Certificates + The participants will carry the Chess  Boards with them.
  • Reporting time is 9 AM - Tournament would start at 10 AM and complete at 5.30/6PM PM.
The participants who are keen on participating can send in there names and contact information to

Aamna Zaidi's article on Mycity4kids

Friday, October 30, 2015

Suno Books - The Mobile App Partner to CLABIL

Today, we want to talk about a totally awesome partnership - .
Suno is the mobile app partner that makes it possible for you to listen to our audio content on your Android Device.
On the google Play Store, the app is here:….
Here is what you must know about Suno, and why we have partnered with them:
1. The app is created by a very talented professional on his personal time.
2. The app only provides copyright free content in Hindi from our library. Very compliant.
3. The app is free. For the CLABIL content, you will never have to see ads.
4. The app does not store your personal data, or even personally identifiable data. It doesn't sell any information to anyone. This is a labour of love and a realisation of a personal idea.
5. The app is improving all the time!!
Do us a favour please - download the app, do try it out, and do share your feedback with us. Every time you do, we can make the app better and more user friendly. smile emoticon

Monday, October 26, 2015

Impact of Audio Files as a learning intervention - Kick Starting the Exploratory Research @ SAI BHOOMI !!!

SAI Bhoomi is a not for profit school in Kanhai Village. Bhoomi caters to the educational needs of the students of Kanhai village. The main objective of Bhoomi is to educate the children to a level where they learn to read, write, be more self-aware and understand the importance of education free of cost. The subjects that are taught in the school are Hindi, English and Math. Apart from this the students are taught poems, shown movies and are made to present them to the class. There are 20 kids aged between 5 to 8 and a teacher to tutor them.

We visited the school as part of our attempt to understand the impact of the audio files in teaching, as a learning intervention. There are different learning styles visual, auditory & kinesthetic. Can these audio files also be used by the non-blind? Does it make an impact? We wanted to find answers for them. We played some basic poetry and moral story contents from CLABIL that were new to the kids. After listening to the audio they were able to recite it back.

Our observations were i) the kids found it amusing & interesting to learn from different voices in which they were recorded ii) schools like BHOOMI that have classes with kids of different age groups & grasping power the audios can be repeated till everyone is on track iii) Teachers can also widen their knowledge on various topics by listening to relevant audios.

We will kick start our exploratory research by recording responses of children from different age groups and schools. The impact of audio files as a learning intervention & content requirements for CLABIL can be studied.

Esha @ SAI BHOOMI, Kanhai Village