How India does it

Hello there!  I’m Christian Robicheau, assistant editor of writing services at and today I’d like to share an editorial with you.  It’s written by our president Donna Jodhan and today she talks about how India does it.
I wish you a great weekend.
How India does it
By Donna J. Jodhan
On a recent business trip I happened to have a friendly chat with a very nice person from India and during the course of our conversation we got talking about how blind and visually impaired persons in India cope when it comes to doing such things as surfing the Internet, getting around, and using access technology.  This very delightful lady was only too willing to share her info with me and I was only too glad to learn something new.  A real shocker for me on this day.  Maybe you already know most of what I am about to share with you but for the record, here goes.
Most blind and visually impaired persons in India use their cell phones to surf the Internet and cell phone usage is much cheaper there than here in North America.  Due to a very generous relationship between Nokia and the Indian government, the price of cell phones in India has been made dirt cheap.  In addition, blind and visually impaired persons in India have very easy access to access technology software that enables them to use their cell phones much more easily and flexibly than we here in North America.  Cell phone usage rates are also much cheaper in India and it is generally known that people in India use their cell phones much more than North Americans.  India is practically loaded with cell phone towers crisscrossing its vast land.
This was something new for me to learn about but when it came to the use of Jaws in India, she told me something that quite frankly astounded me.  We would not dispute the fact that the cost to buy and keep updated with the latest versions of Jaws is quite steep for most blind and visually impaired persons let alone those in India but blind and visually impaired persons in India have found a very simple and unique way to get around this.  They do it like this:  They keep a breast of the latest and greatest versions of Jaws by downloading the demo versions and then they reboot their computer systems whenever the time expires on the demo version.  That is, the demo version expires every 40 minutes and in order to use it again one needs to reboot their system.  I say, very cool!  Simple and just adapting to the times is what our fellow blind and visually impaired persons in India are managing to do very affectively.  They do not have to pay for anything, they are managing to keep abreast of the latest versions of Jaws, and all they need to do is reboot their systems every 40 minutes. 
When I showed my cell phone to my new friend, she calmly told me that people in India were no longer using this particular model.  They were now onto a newer model that provided them with greater capabilities such as using GPS and the KNFB reader software.  Just imagine my great surprise to learn that my cell phone was grossly outdated and if I had to buy the newer model, I would have to pay a lot for it here in Canada while in India it is so cheap. 
Blind and visually impaired persons in India travel around using canes; the use of guide dogs are very uncommon.  They have developed a smart cane for use there and it should be on the market some time soon.  On the other side of the coin, the rights of blind and visually impaired Indians are still very much hampered but they are making efforts to address this. 
There is much for us to learn from our counterparts in India and I am sure that there is much that they can learn from us as well.  Time for some international reaching out you ask?  Why not?  There is much for us to learn from each other.  I’m going to leave you with this question:  How possible or probable you ask would it be for us here in North America to be able to take advantage of an initiative whereby hardware and software could be made available to us more cheaply?


I’m Donna J. Jodhan wishing you a terrific day and weekend.
To reach me, please send an email to and I would be delighted to send you an electronic copy of our latest newsletter.
Here is a complete list of where you can view Donna’s blogs and editorials.
Donna Jodhan!  Advocating accessibility for all 
a weekly feature on important answers to consumers concerns
Weekly blogs for language professionals and accessibility consultants
A monthly editorial on issues on diversity
a monthly editorial on business issues and concerns 
weekly editorials on accessibility issues in Canada
Editorials:  An International perspective on issues of accessibility and disability (under the editorials section, an international perspective)
A general perspective on issues of access and accessibility 

About Donna Jodhan

Donna Jodhan is an award winning blind author, advocate, sight loss coach, blogger, podcast commentator, and accessibility specialist.
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