Today, I would like to tell my readers a small story, the story of a young boy who is just 14yrs who is trying to turn things around him and understanding the world from a closer perspective. This is the story of my life and my experiences. I was 14yrs when I really came to know that I am going blind and soon I will loose my vision due to a degenerating eye disease named Retina Pigmentosa. The doctor asked me to learn Braille and continue my studies with the help of Braille and recordings of the text books. I never knew what I really want to do in my life, what to study, no ambition, no goal, no focus etc. it did not matter to me that I am going blind at that point, my father didn’t know what to do with me and my mom didn’t know what to speak to me. I didn’t want to learn Braille as I had some residual vision with which I could continue my studies using of a magnifying glass. I finished my schooling and during my college days I use to get my text books recorded in audio cassettes and listen to them continuously. But to get them done I need to wait for the volunteers to finish recording them. It was a tough time during the college days. I have no clue about screen reader’s and how they can help in my education and career.
I use to spend lot of time alone thinking how I could move forward in life, I was a shy boy, calm and timid. During my schooling couple of incidences woke-up my inner self and my interest towards studies and reading increased. I wanted to read and gain knowledge; I came to know about magnifier which is embedded in windows xp. With the help of this magnifier I managed for 3yrs and then I came to know about the screen reader JAWS. I started to learn it and use to read lots of articles and pdf books which are available in public domain. During my graduation final year when I started with web designing an idea broke into my brain, why can’t I have a website which lists all the accessible class notes which people are recording in to audio format and scanning books into pdf, word formats. The idea was super and I have done some research and found that there is no website which is of this kind and this can be the ultimate business plan. As people say ideas keep flying in air and we catch them each second. And the one who implements an idea is the real owner of that idea.
I did not implement that idea and during 2009 I heard a similar work being done and the project was named book bole. I did not show much interest as I was busy with many other projects and with my job search. Couple of months back Dipesh sir from Enable India asked if I had checked out bookbole which had now become inclusive planet, I answered no and thought to myself that I would check it out. He mentioned that this is some thing similar to what you are talking about. The name was catchy “inclusive planet” I thought to my self. When I registered with the portal I found that they are doing some thing which is similar to what I thought and it was a amazing place to get lots of books in audio, pdf and word formats, people are sharing all the accessible content which they possess. With in few months inclusive planet has more than 15000 files hosted and 3000 registered members. It has members from 76 countries and lot of amazing events are taking place.
Recently I started to interact with the team of inclusive planet and have been helping them out in what ever way I can. They are really amazing people to work with, they like to listen to the ideas, suggestions and implement them. The portal is like any other social networking site with members, groups and a discussion board. But the ultimate difference which inclusive planet makes is providing the accessible content which can be utilized by all the visually impaired. The website is totally accessible to screen readers and it is becoming more accessible day by day. I met some amazing bloggers and great personalities in inclusive planet. This all might not be possible if I never stumbled upon and took the action of registering with inclusive planet. I thought it was like any other social networking site and being a social media marketing consultant I always try the new networking places. Some of them are cool and some of them are like any other networking tool. Inclusive Planet however is totally cool!