The organisation is working towards providing job opportunities for the visually impaired with the help of a unique employment linked training programme in the IT sector that has resulted in a regular source of livelihood.
Growth of Information Technology (IT) in the Indian economy is well-known. Utilising the opportunities available in IT and IT-enabled services, Nabet India (National Association for the Blind (Employment & Training)), has been instrumental in providing jobs and livelihoods to over 500 visually challenged individuals.
After spending over 35 years in welfare services for the blind, Usha Mishra, the Managing Trustee of Nabet India, says,
A myth that has been shattered is that the visually challenged cannot be performers and that they cannot be entrusted with critical assignments. It has emerged that the blind are ideally suited for certain tasks — accessibility testing of websites and software; further, they have the ability to communicate effectively.
Situated in Industrial Model Township in Manesar, Haryana,
Nabet India was started after Usha observed the hardships faced by visually impaired people.
Determined to work towards their welfare, she attended various conferences and workshops on how technology can be harnessed for the same. One such discussion led to realising her dream to provide jobs using IT.
“I saw the plight of the visually impaired very closely and understood their problems, needs, strengths, and weaknesses since it involved a close family member. Empathy and understanding drew me closer to people with vision impairment,” says 52-year-old Usha.
Her husband, Commodore Sridhar Mishra, an electronics engineer, shared similar views. The duo started the training centre in 2011, supported by IT experts who helped them develop courses that could enable the visually impaired to get regular jobs. Initially the organisation consisted of just two trainees.
With a dynamic course curriculum, the Nabet team constantly updated its content to meet specific industry demands. The training-cum-employment programme offers besides basic computer application. Specific courses are conducted to make the trainees job-ready.
The IT revolution in India has created many jobs that were non-existent earlier. Moreover, it is a sector which is accident-free and ideally suited for the visually impaired. Many technological advancements, development of special screen reader software and assistive devices have made training and performance of tasks easier than before.
The IT sector brings in a variety of jobs that need different skills. This suits people of different abilities and encompasses large segment of the society,” Arjun Mishra, Director of Nabet India explains.
The centre also conducts various health camps, eye-care programmes, and counselling sessions to provide primary care and create awareness about training programmes. Computer literacy programmes for children and girl child are also encouraged.
Government, and non-government organisations conduct many vocational training programmes, but the Nabet team says lack of employment opportunities render these programmes ineffective.
“Such courses are generic in content. They do not meet the exact defining parameters of the job roles. It was, therefore, considered necessary to design, process-specific training programmes that meet defined job roles,” says Abhishek Mishra, co-founder of Nabet India, who earlier worked with Alcatel Lucent.
Trainers are handpicked, and Nabet follows the ‘Train The Trainer’ (TTT) model, where inexperienced instructors receive coaching and mentoring from experienced corporate experts.
This mechanism enables trainers to develop skills and gain knowledge. Nabet adopts the TTT model as many companies are not equipped to deal with visually impaired trainees.
We have many trainees who were jobless and their visual impairment further complicated matters. The special training programme brings employers and companies to a common point, 32-year-old Abhishek says.
IT companies also benefit from this programme as they get a regular source of trained manpower. Today, the programme serves clients in the telecom, automobile, and e-commerce sectors.
Over the past six years, Nabet India has found employment for over 500 people. It has received various recognitions, including the Washington DC’s ‘Global Good Fund’ 2017, and London’s ‘Queen's Young Leader’, 2017 awards. The National University of Singapore and DBS Bank also listed it as one of the top 60 organisations in Asia.
Being differently-abled is often viewed as being dependent on others. Trainees at Nabet aspire to be independent, and contribute financially to their families.
Kavit and Pushpa, not only gained employment, but also found love at Nabet. Visually impaired since birth, they had little knowledge about computers, internet, and the opportunities it offered. While Kavit engaged in extra classes to hone his skills, Pushpa was encouraged and counselled by the Nabet team to believe in her abilities.
"They become free from the bondage of dependence and government welfare schemes for their basic needs," Usha says.
Kavit and Pushpa are currently employed with Nabet India as trainers.
Nabet takes on outsourced jobs to help trainees gain real-time experience of job roles. The trainees also receive a stipend.
The organisation also interacts with universities, educational institutions, and MNCs for job opportunities.
The concept of using visually impaired resources for critical processes is now proven. It is a working model of financial self-dependence, and self-identified and self-researched employment avenues. Donations are not a complete solution to the mammoth task of empowerment of the blind, Usha adds.
Non-availability of transport and accommodation affect Nabet’s outreach to remote areas. Funds continue to remain one of the key challenges of the organisation for many of their trainees come from poor families.
Based only in Manesar at present, Abhishek plans to take this programme to various parts of India to engage with a larger number of people. Further, Nabet is looking to work on government projects and CSR initiatives.