This article is brought to you by Franklin Templeton Investments
Being born with any form of impairment is definitely unfortunate, but what is more damaging is letting that impairment define you and become your identity. And Shankar Chandrashekar, who hails from Bellary, Karnataka, couldn’t agree more with this.
Despite being born visually impaired and with limited mobility in his arms, the 29-year-old has clinched heights in life that ‘conventionally’ wouldn’t be expected of him.
This is because Shankar works as an accessibility tester in a software firm in Noida, lives independently, and has also been helping other visually impaired people find the kind of freedom he has found—all the while considering his disability as the breeze that gently pushed him towards achieving his dreams.
And he has two things to credit for everything he has managed to achieve so far—technology and the Internet.
“The internet is useful for everyone, but in my opinion, visually challenged people can’t lead their lives without it. From learning new things to money transactions—I rely on the Internet for 95 per cent of the things I have to do,” he says smiling.
Having realised how technology can transform the lives of differently-abled people, Shankar decided to step up and help others like him by making use of social media platforms like YouTube and WhatsApp.
“I started giving tax deposits in 2012, and since then, I had thought of creating a WhatsApp group just from the point of view of learning new things from different people at one place. What was basically started just for me to learn, later grew into a platform where I shared my knowledge with others, and others shared theirs with me,” Shankar says.
With videos on subjects like ‘How does a visually impaired person read text that is in an image,’ ‘WhatsApp tips and tricks for the blind,’ ‘how to automate your device,’ and more, Shankar’s YouTube channel named Tech Accessibility Tutorials started in 2016 and has over 3,600 subscribers today.
His parents had to enrol Shankar at Shree Ramana Maharishi Academy for the Blind in Bengaluru when he was three since his hometown, Bellary didn’t have accessible education facilities at that time.
After class 10, he pursued a Diploma in Special Education (Visually Impairment) from the Rehabilitation Council of India and then went to Enable India to receive ICT training. Sadly, he couldn’t find a job in the teaching sector, because of which he decided to return to Bellary.
It was during his return journey that he came across a person named Chiranjeevi, who upon learning his interest in computers, gave Shankar a laptop. He then used his government-sanctioned Disability Pension of ₹500 to get an Internet connection for his home, and it was from here that he began developing his computer skills on his own and learnt various coding languages using online tutorials.
Explaining how the channel operates, Shankar says that whenever a new application comes up on the Play Store, he checks with app developers whether they would be interested in paying him if he prepares a tutorial for visually challenged people.
“We are not doing charity work here. We are spreading knowledge, and we also need to be paid because we are spending time on this. If we get loyalty or remuneration, then it’s good. If not, then also it is not a problem,” he says.
In the future, Shankar aims to get a job in the National Informatics Centre where he can work on making all state and central government websites accessible for visually impaired people. A fighter with a never-give-up attitude; he wishes for the government to equip the country with facilities akin to those abroad.
“Visually challenged people should also be given jobs in a way that their efficiencies are utilised. For example, instead of giving them the work of clerks where all they are required to do is answer calls, they should be trained in technology, and their skills should be put to use,” he adds.
Shankar concludes with a message for people with disabilities across the world. “Be positive and experience each and every second of your life. Don’t expect that someone will come and teach you or do something for you. You have to explore each and everything on your own; only then can you learn things in a better manner.”
Here’s his story:
A look at the way Shankar stepped up to create an impact in his life and that of others, can be inspiring for many investors who can step up their investments as their income grows. A mutual fund investor, for example, can step-up his/her investment by 10% or by a fixed amount every year to improve the potential for wealth creation in the long run. Besides stepping up, one should also invest portions of every incremental income like a bonus, the sale of assets, gifts, ex-gratia, among others to build this kitty. While most investors would aim to meet standard goals, those who step-up may have the potential to meet bigger life aspirations as well. Like Shankar, if you want to go miles ahead of others, you need to start stepping up now.
Step up consistently to go higher, stronger and faster – In life and your investments.
REACH FOR BETTER
Disclaimer: An Investor Education and Awareness Initiative by Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund. Mutual Fund investments are subject to market risks, read all scheme related documents carefully.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)