Padma Shri J. L. Kaul – Secretary General – All India Confederation of the Blind – Delhi
Dedicated to advancing the lives of the young blind population through education, accessibility and innovation
He challenged and dramatically changed society’s perceptions of individuals with visual disabilities. Born in Sri Nagar, Jammu and Kashmir Jawahar Lal Kaul lost his sight due to Smallpox at the tender age of five. Undeterred, he pursued his school and university education,braving heavy odds and distinguishing himself as a student with outstanding merit.He stood first in B.A. (Hons) Sanskrit at Punjab University in 1967, receiving the Gold Medal in recognition.
His journey and education for the Blind-
The plight of a blind student in a sighted world-The miserable plight of the institutions for the blind and the charity- based treatment meted out to them, caused great anguish to the young Kaul and he had urgings to do something different for his blind brothers and sisters.
The idea behind AICB- In 1980, he set up the All India Confederation of the Blind (AICB)–an umbrella organization with its Headquarters in Delhi.Recognizing the importance of education, Kaul has developed at AICB the biggest Braille production Centre in the country which is providing textbook support to school and college students in over 10 States.
Being Innovative- He set up a Science Laboratory and a Resource Centre, encouraging people to recognize that even blind children, given the right inputs, can study Science subject at par with sighted students.Kaul has facilitated the opening of Stenography as a new and viable employment opportunity for the blind. His pioneering and untiring efforts led to the establishment of systematic training in Stenography, which has resulted in over 300 blind persons being employed as Stenographers in Banks and Government Departments.
Community Help-He has also promoted blindness prevention programmes in a big way by organizing screening of eye-sight, free eye camps and dispensing of glasses to the poor. He has not overlooked the aging blind persons either and has organized model services for them. The programmes of rehabilitation of the rural blind undertaken by AICB, under Kaul’s leadership, are also highly commendable.
Capt. Chandan Lal Special School for the Blind -The Confederation is running a highly progressive residential school called AICB Capt. Chandan Lal Special School for the Blind, for blind boys and girls in a rural environment in a village Behrampur, in the district of Gurgaon, Haryana State. The school was started in August 1994 with 25 students. The School is recognized by the Haryana Govt. The school provides free boarding, lodging and education on modern lines from the pre-school stage up to class VIII. A large number of boys and girls from various Hindi speaking States have so far benefited from the activities of the school. At present the number of students in the school we are serving is 124.
The Confederation has a Resource Centre at the school, the first of its kind in the country. It has:
I. A Science Lab with latest technological devices including adapted and self-made equipment.
II. A geography Room with a rich variety of tactile maps and geographical features as well as embossed globes.
III. A Touch-and-Tell Museum having a rare collection of special tactile models of animals, birds and other objects including transportation systems.
IV. A Computer Section with the help of Amway Opportunity Foundation has been proving helpful in imparting computer training to children from class 2 onwards.
When asked about the role of integrated education for the blind he said, integrated education is a good option provided the Govt. offers proper infrastructure. As per our research on the subject, it has revealed that in majority of the states neither properly trained teachers are in the schools nor special Braille appliances and Braille books are available. Secondly, majority of the parents in rural areas are not in a position to help their visually challenged children to complete their home task nor proper transportation facility is available. In majority of the schools blind children are left in a corner. We cannot support integrated education on the ground that it is less expensive and therefore should be introduced at all levels.
J. L. Kaul
Recipient of Padma Shri Award 2014
All India Confederation of the Blind