Eyesight Is No Pre-Requisite For Having A Vision, Proves This SEBI Assistant Legal Advisor

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Mumbai: A steely determination and a firm resolve are all you need to overcome life’s challenges. Rahul Kelapure, 38 was determined that he would not let his visual impairment be an impediment and stop him from dreaming big.

An Assistant Legal Adviser Rahul Kelapure at the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Rahul used the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to fuel his energy to read without depending on anyone.

“The technology converts the printed paper or book into readable text. The book is first scanned and the image is then converted into text document. It is then spoken out aloud by a screen reading software such as JAWS and NVDA,” said the gold medalist and law graduate from Government Law College, Mumbai in an Education Times report.

His desire to introduce other visually challenged people to the “beautiful gift of books” took him to NGOs. With their help, he began providing the Marathi Optical Character Recognition service and enabled them to read books in Marathi in the digital format.

“While a lot of English books are available in the digital format on different platforms, there are a negligible number of books/literature in Marathi or any other regional languages. Since language is the glue that binds oneself with his/her culture, as a Maharashtrian, I am eager to read some of the classic literature/books of the likes of Dasbodh, Nyaneshwari etc. My affinity with the Marathi language has driven me to share this experience with others,” shared Rahul.

His other goal included protecting the interest of Persons with Disability (PwD) and other weaker sections of the society, which led him to pursue law.

At present, Rahul is pursuing the Company Secretary course and MBA in Finance. He also conducts SEBI’s workshops on Investor Education for PWDs for various institutions across India. “Advancement in technology has to a large extent enabled visually impaired users to independently carry out their investment-related transactions, hence my aim is to provide them the required knowledge.”

The journey till here however, was not without disappointments for he faced many rejections in the job market due to his visual impairment.

He is grateful to his parents, (retired state government employee father and homemaker mother), two sisters, and wife who stood by his side like a rock all through his struggle.

“From listening to lessons recorded in the human voice in audio cassettes to now being able to read large documents/books by the screen readers on mobile and computers, it has been an evolving journey,” he says.

During the initial school days at Chandrapur in Maharashtra, Rahul had to depend on someone from his family to read out the lessons to him. He gradually started reading textbooks in braille and later, resorted to listening to audiobooks recorded in the talking book library of NAB (National Association for the Blind) while in college.

“Since books related to law were not commonly available at NAB, my friends at law college and other volunteers would read the textbooks and record it for me. It was no doubt a very cumbersome procedure. The beginning of ‘y2k’ unveiled the screen readers on the computer and revolutionised the way I studied. For my exams, I use the services of a scribe,” he mentioned.

So what is Rahul’s advice to youths with disability? “One must choose the field of education or career based on his/her ability and passion and not on the basis of disability. Remember, there is light at the end of every tunnel.”

As Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden,” Rahul Kelapure has proved, eyes or no eyes, if you want to shine, ignite the light within you, then the world will know you and your story.

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