In many rural parts of India, blindness is considered a curse because of beliefs like sins committed in past lives. People suffering from blindness or any other kind of birth defects are tortured or sometimes killed due to superstitious beliefs.
Many families with blind members do not know how to care for their child and with fear of social retribution, parents hide their child away from the world.
Lack of proper health care in villages leads to blindness which can be otherwise prevented or cured. While India needs about 115,000 optometrists, it has only about 40,000, largely because of regulation issues and a lack of training programs.
For children with disabilities the barriers are much higher, ninety per cent of blind or severely visually impaired children in India do not attend school. In rural areas there is a lack of special school so children or teenagers have to travel far from their families to assist to one of them and become residential pupils.
In countries like India where the numbers of blind children are staggering, integration emerges as the only alternative to reach the unreached. Services for blind children in the country are more than 100 years old but the coverage of blind children in education is not even 10%. This scenario will change with the speedy implementation of integrated education.
At this vocational training center “Light of Karma” in southern India Karnataka, these blind teenagers are striving day by day to prove that they are fully capable of learning, getting a degree, being independent and enjoy life as any other young.