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Tyre maker Goodyear partners with NAB to conduct road safety training in Delhi for blind people

Traveling independently is a major challenge that people with vision impairments face in India. There are many assistive devices available today to help overcome this. The National Association for the Blind and multinational tyre manufacturing company Goodyear have come together to implement a project in Delhi to spread awareness about this.

At 15 million, India is home to the world's largest population of blind people. This is a community that is seeking to make its presence felt in the space of education and employment. The biggest barrier they face comes to independent travel.

People with vision impairments are among the most vulnerable to road accidents. This in turn leads to very real and legitimate fears when it comes to traveling alone, in them and their families.

Recognising this, prominent NGO, National Association for the Blind (NAB) and leading multinational tyre company Goodyear have come together to conduct mobility training for blind people in Delhi.

We are happy to work with Goodyear to implement a project on road safety and mobility for the blind. Road safety is a big challenge, and blind people face difficulties in using public transport. There are not many institutions that provide the training needed. We have trained 500 visually impaired people in using white cane, smart cane and various GPS aids. - Prashant Ranjan Verma, General Secretary, National Association for the Blind

Established in 1979, the NAB is committed to making visually impaired people independent in various aspects of life, an effort that has won the organisation many prestigious national and international awards. The NGO conceived of the road safety project to train people between the age of 12 to 50 years.

"We have also trained many girls as part of the project, says Meenakshi Chandwani, Program Manager, NAB. "The girls have benefitted a lot from this. Fifty girls from economically marginalised families were given mobile phones by Goodyear as well. "These are smart phones equipped with features, so they are always aware of their location and can seek help. Independent travel is an even bigger challenge for disabled girls and the project was an incentive for them to come forward.

The training was wide ranging and included different aspects related to road safety.

"I taught many how to use the white cane, and how to walk with it, says Anil Kumar, a mobility trainer. "I taught them to how travel on the road, how to use public transport like buses, the Delhi Metro, etc. "

There were training sessions held in the use of the smart cane developed by Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT-D) and Saksham. The cane warns uses of obstacles in the way using vibrations.

The training looked at independent movement in indoor environments, walking on footpaths, boarding buses, using GPS, Delhi Metro, crossing roads, finding traffic information and getting navigation guidance using GPS.

"Thanks to the training, my daily travel now is much easier, said Gokul, a student. Another student Rishabh feels equally positive about venturing out on his own. "I am more confident now and want to learn more.

The participants in the mobility training were all from north India, mostly from economically poor families. There were some hostel residents from the Delhi-NCR.

GET IN TOUCH: To find out about future road safety programmes conducted by the NAB, check out their website http://www.nabdelhi.in/. You can also call the office at 011-26176379, 011-26102944, 011-8826260010 or reach Prashant Ranjan Verma at +91-9811686966 and gs@nabdelhi.in.

ALSO READ:Online training in digital accessibility for visually impaired people opens doors to new job opportunities

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