‘I am prone to mistakes too’ – The Hindu

Differently-abled people don’t always look for sympathy. Some amount of empathy apart, they like to be treated as equals. Take the case of Bangalore-based journalist L. Subramani for instance. “I am prone to making mistakes like everyone else and I’m glad when my colleagues point it out without being patronising,” he says. L. Subramani went blind at the age of 18, after being detected with Retinitis Pigmentosa. There’s a huge difference between those born blind and those who become blind eventually, he explains. Subramani went through stages of denial, anxiety and finally accepted his irreversible condition. Once he came to terms with his blindness, he sought out to learn and become a journalist and has years of writing and editing to his credit. “I cannot design pages though, since it’s a visual process,” he says with a smile, understanding his limitations.

, a book that gives an insight into his journey after being detected with Retinitis Pigmentosa. “I went blind in 1991. Thereafter, I’ve gone through a huge transformation. We (he and his family) went through a stage of expecting miracles. I’ve noticed that instead of focusing on how to cope with a condition, a lot of time, effort and money goes into doing superstitious rituals that one hopes, will deliver a miracle,” he observes.

He spoke to others with similar conditions, whom he came to know through the organisation Retina India. The book is his way of reaching out to the visually-impaired and their family members and helping them with necessary information. “After 22 years, I found that there wasn’t enough support in terms of information and counselling for the blind. All blind people cannot be put into the same bracket,” he says. Talking about the two years when his vision was failing, he says, “At one point, I wished the process would be over so that there would be a full stop to the ordeal. It was emotionally debilitating. I kept wondering if I’m unable to see certain things because of my condition or it is my assumption.”

. He recalls the initial reactions when he stepped into journalism. “I entered a newspaper office as a trainee and a sports editor, who thought I was a visitor, asked me to wait till someone could attend to me. When I told him I was a trainee, there was no reaction for a while,” he laughs. At another time, he remembers an editor wondering aloud, ‘what do I do with you?’ “I said, please give me something to write or edit.” Subramani uses customised software to write and edit. While his peers treat him as one among them, there have been instances of disbelief. “Once, someone asked me earnestly why I shouldn’t take up a telephone operator job instead of going out reporting,” he recalls.

Like many of us, Subramani buys e-books and reads them on Kindle and says reading is easier when books and websites are ‘accessible’ with text to speech option. “The facility wasn’t available for

Echoing the thoughts of other differently-abled people, he says, “I wish accessibility becomes an intrinsic part of planning a festival. Ensuring that there are ramps and large toilets where wheelchairs could go in would ensure the disabled also participate in lit fests.”

As he looks forward to engage in conversations over his book, he also wishes readers would assess the book critically. “One shouldn’t read this book thinking it is written by a blind person. There’s a notion that the disabled are too weak to take criticism, which isn’t true.”

Curated from ‘I am prone to mistakes too’ – The Hindu