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Messiah wait for bright future

- Special devices hope for students diagnosed with low vision

Srikant can read letters in the English alphabet from 2m away but is a little worried if he can work without Braille.

The 16-year-old is one among three children at Rajkiya Netraheen Uchcha Vidyalaya in Kadamkuan who were diagnosed with low vision at a health camp last year. Thought to be blind, the consultant optometrist at the institution realised Srikant and Santosh (12) and Dhananjay (11) had low vision and their residual vision could be restored with training and special devices worth Rs 15,000.

The school administration is waiting for a messiah who could provide them money to purchase devices the trio require to increase their visibility. The three come from financially backward families and cannot afford to buy the low-vision devices, which include optic lens aids such as high-power magnifiers and spectacles and electronic devices that help magnify the residual vision. There is no treatment for a person suffering from low vision.

Rajeev Prasad, the consultant optometrist and a low-vision specialist, said: The children can join any school if they are provided with low vision devices. These cost around Rs 15,000.

Khagendra Paswan, the principal of the blind school, said: We dont have any norm for eye check-ups before admission. It is because of Prasads efforts (he organised the check-up camp last year) that we came to know the three were suffering from low vision and could go to a usual school if they had the requisite aids.

Before rushing to class, Srikant told The Telegraph: I have been told I can go to any school. Is it possible? Can I study in a normal school? I have been studying in Braille since I was admitted here. I can read alphabets from 2m away but as I am not conversant with it, I cannot string them into a sentence. For that, I have to depend on Braille.

Prasad said parents lack of awareness lead to children like Srikant to study in a school for the blind. The doctors who checked the three students must have given them a low-vision certificate. But because of their parents inability to understand partial vision, they studied in a school for the blind. In the past four years, I have helped shift 40 children suffering from low-vision from a blind school. I requested school administrations to provide such children assistance and assign them a first-row seat so that they can see better, he said.