[Strategy & Inspiration] How Visually Challenged Candidates prepare for UPSC Civil Service Exam

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UPSC Paperset

I had asked Mr.Balanagendran  to write an article on how visually challenged candidates prepare for the civil service exam. It is my personal requests to all readers- please DO read the two paragraphs titled

  1. Free Training for Softwares
  2. Barriers to Preparation: The Cost Factor

And if any of you have any suggestions, alternative softwares or preparation resources for the benefit of visually challenged candidates for any competitive exam, please do share it in comments or via the “Contact Me” button. Here start the article:

Index

  1. Preface
  2. Childhood
  3. College
  4. Childhood Fancy Turned Into an Obsession
  5. Strategies, Books and Softwares we follow
  6. Time management
  7. Books and Materials
  8. Self-motivation
  9. Software’s we use
  10. Barriers to Preparation: The Cost Factor
  11. To Conclude

Preface

Respected readers and followers of Mrunal.org, we would like to say thank you for spending your precious time in reading our guest article. We feel that this is the opportunity for which we have been waiting for a long time to make some amount of people know, “if you think you can, you can, Inspite of your abilities and disabilities”. We think that it’s obvious to introduce our self to you all.

Childhood

We Balaji and Balanagendran are two visually challenged civil service aspirants. We have been affected by this visual challenges by our birth itself; therefore life is going with the same amount of bliss with desires as that of the sighted people without difficulties. Both of us did our schooling till SSC in a specialized school, later we have been aspired to do commerce, so that we got transferred from that specialized school to the ordinary school where the sighted people study.

College

During those days, doing commerce is impossible for a student with visual challenges because of numerous diagrammatic and numerical based subjects such as accountancy, mathematics, Etc. but we have decided that we need to do commerce and make the people know that visual challenges are not an obstacle, were as it is just a limitation. After our HSC we joined Bachelors in Commerce “B Com” in Loyola College Autonomous, Chennai, one of the renowned colleges in India.
In the year 2010 and 2011, we have proved what we have stored in our mind to prove to the people, “even a visual impairment cannot make commerce an impossible one”. Now both of us are commerce graduates and looking forward to become an Indian administrative service officers with a view to do something for the betterment of the visually challenged and to the entire differently abled community.

Childhood Fancy Turned Into an Obsession

We heard the word IAS for the first time at the age of 5 or 6. During those time, we have been told that it is the toughest studies in the country, and only rich people can do that. On that time, due to our childhood curiosity, we told to our parents that we are going to do that! They didn’t take it that much serious initially, our neighbours and relatives laughed and said that we are pathetic. As a first generation learners, we need to work to our limits to take our self from one level to another level in the day to day operations of our educational career. After the completion of our SSC, we told to our parents that we are going to do commerce followed by civil services. Then our parents started to have strong faith on us. Really, now a days, our parents are the greatest motivators.
We don’t know how we have maintained that childhood fancy, but now we are certain that we have no other option but to become an IAS officers. During our HSC and our college period, we were searching and collecting information’s about civil services, UPSC, exam procedures, optional subjects, syllabus, and so on. Now we are on the right track, as Balaji has given his first prelims and Balanagendran has given his second prelims on this past Sunday, may 20. From our primary education till date, we have come across stunning successes, devastating failures, real motivations and harsh criticisms. We strongly believe that the mixed experience of our life is the only tool which helps to have a focus towards our destiny.

Strategies, Books and Softwares we follow

We use to do some activities as part of our preparation, we would like to call it as strategies. Some of them are for your view.

Time management

We all know, the most precious commodity in this world that is irrecoverable, is time. Therefore, we won’t compromise when it comes to time. We use to do what we have planned to do in a particular time. Most of the time we suffer a loss, due to lack of concentration, lack of interest in the subject, ETC. but we use to finish the work with in that day itself. We don’t care of our sleep, we don’t compromise with our own self, if we feel that we need to work more today. So, time management is the major tool or strategy where we are very cautious.
We have e-sources as well as Braille materials, which is a special method of learning for the visually challenged people. We use to separate time for E-material and special time for Braille material in a day. For example, In our state, 2 hours power cut per day is sure. During those 2 hours, we use to read Braille materials. That 2 hours are the moments which make us feel, “it is ok, even good, to be a visually challenged”. We feel that is why we are proud to say the thing which we do, cannot be done by a sighted person, that is reading and writing in the dark! Those 2 hours really helps us in learning. After that, we use to divide the hours for E materials as well as for our Braille materials. We won’t go to bed unless the allotted work is finished on that day.

Books and Materials

Most of the books we have are in E-format. For our initial preparation, we followed NCERT books from 6 to 12th standard, for science and technology for GS we use to follow the Hindu scientific events, for current affairs we use to read news papers through online, such as the Hindu in common, for national affairs, we give priority to press information bureau, where we can get day to day information about all the ministries and commissions activities. For Indian polity we follow M.Laxmikhant that we have in Braille format.
For environment and biodiversity, we follow news papers and the national open school material taken from Mrunal.org for economics, we follow the articles of Mrunal, and as a commerce students, we possess our college economic notes.
For CSAT, we follow Indiabix.com for our basic practice, Mrunal’s article on aptitude and RBI grade B officer’s book for aptitude and reasoning. We use to go R.S. agarwal only to take the questions; We use to solve them by using short cut ways that have been taught to us. Our friends are the backbone in our aptitude preparations. They use to type the questions from the text book, and we solve it and send it for corrections through mail. We are glad to have such people as our friends. Now days, Mrunal too joined the party by assisting us in solving our queries related to aptitude and by sending the article when ever we request in a doc file.

Self-motivation

You are your best motivators. Similarly, we use to motivate our self by doing things which gives self satisfaction. Such as, teaching to our juniors, discussing about social and political issues with elders and friends, assisting a stranger if the opportunity comes, ETC. through those things, we are able to feel that, we can contribute something to others, therefore, we are also a deserving people to be an IAS. Such things use to boost our mind and help us to get back to our books with a bang.

Software’s we use

In the recent days we the visually challenged have attained independence with the help of Information and Communication Technologies “ICTs”.  For instance software’s like JAWS, Kurzweil, Abby fine reader, and so on.

JAWS

Job access with speech, “JAWS” is a screen reading software which helps as to read the contents on a computer screen. It helps as to surf internet, to read and type the documents to reach the desired files and folders in computers and almost all computer activities.

Abby fine reader and Kurzweil

These software’s helps as to read a book independently. By using these software’s we’ll scan the books and convert them in to a word document format or to Mp3 format. Earlier we need a person to read the book for us. But this barrier as been removed by these softwares.

The Braille printers:

Inventions of Braille printers are very important mile stone in the life of each an every visually challenged persons. Since the Braille is the main script for all visually challenged persons these printers accomplished the task of compiling the soft copies in to a Braille book and help as to have a contact with our script, Since Braille is the main source of our learning. At the same time it also helps to those who cannot afford a desktop or a laptop.

Government Role

But converting a book into a soft copy is a tedious work because we cannot reproduce the hard copy material without the author’s permission. This barrier is going to be removed by the proposed amendment in the copy right bill 1957 which is in the parliament for its approval. Under this new proposal the differently-abled people can convert a book in to a soft copy without the permission of the author but he or she should pay the royalty if it is explored for commercial purposes.

Mobile

As we told earlier we have a screen reader JAWS for computers, we have (Talks) a screen reader for mobiles too. This software functions in the same way as jaws. It will read all the contents that displays on mobile screen. We’ll read messages, contacts, Medias and much more. In short these screen readers are similar to Vodafone advertisements, “where ever you go it follows”.
But they won’t cheat as the Vodafone network does. We use to store materials by converting into MP3, DAISY format or TXT format files in our memory and use to hear with the help of our mobile whenever computers and Braille reading are not possible. Even now days some of our friends are using touch screen phones and tablets. After invention of all these Information and communication technologies “ICT tools”, we can access all the soft copy’s and hardcopy’s independently.

Free Training for Softwares

Our humble request to you all is, if you get a chance of meeting a visually challenged, create awareness of these things. Surely it will enable a visually challenged to know about these kind of software’s. We have a resource centres at Loyola college Chennai, S.T Xavier’s college Mumbai, National Institute of visually handicapped at Dehradun and Chennai. These centres give free training for all visually challenged persons throughout the year in handling this kind of softwares.

Barriers to Preparation: The Cost Factor

Though we have numerous amount of technological advancements, it is impossible to purchase those things by an individual because of its Himalayan cost. For example, JAWS costs around 20000 to 50000. I think, it is more than the cost of a computer now a days. Due to that we are using software called non vision desktop access “NVDA”, which is free for all. But the barrier is, it Is not that much user friendly and its accent is very difficult to understand.
When it comes to scanning and making Braille materials, we have to bear the cost approximately 600% or more than its original price. For instance, if you are a sighted guy, you need to pay Rs. 410  to purchase M.Laxmikanth’s book on Indian polity, or less if the seller is giving discount. But were as, if you are a visually challenged, and if you want to convert that book into Braille, first you need to pay Rs. 410 to purchase the text book and then you need pay another Rs. 2560 extra for its Braille conversion. Imagine, if a visually challenged who has affordability, can pay for it, but can a middle class or a poor guy pay nearly Rs. 3000 to purchase a single book? This is what we people feel as the greatest barrier in our preparation. Such barriers still keeps a million miles distance between a visually challenged and civil services.

To Conclude

We hope that the information’s we have given helps in reducing the hindrance of knowledge about the visually challenged people, especially visually challenged civil service aspirants. It’s our honour and privilege to thank Mrunal for providing a glorious opportunity to interact with you all. If this information’s helps in reducing the level of your sympathy on visually challenged, that is our success!
As Martin Luther King Jr Says,
‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others.’
Hope that this article have answered to some of your questions relating to visually challenged soles in accessing there study materials with advanced technology. we congratulate all the UPSC aspirants, and wish them their dream come true as soon as possible. Have a strong faith in your efforts Because,
“if you think you can, you can, Inspite of your abilities and disabilities”.

Mrunal recommends

  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books 4 History,Geo,Sci
  2. Indian Polity M.Laxmikanth (Hindi | English)
  3. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  4. Maths: Quantam CAT Sarvesh Kumar
  5. Objective General English SP Bakshi
  6. Word Power made Easy -Norman Lowe
  7. Topic wise Solved Paperset by Disha

20 Comments on “[Strategy & Inspiration] How Visually Challenged Candidates prepare for UPSC Civil Service Exam”

  1. Dear Friends, Thank you for writing the article, it was inspirational, knowledgeable and innovative. I will surely send this article to my friends and tell them to circulate it, so that a needy person could get help, Mrunal thank you very much for pasting this article and helping the needy persons, in this present society of Quid pro quo you are doing a great philanthropic work, you will get Sawab (means Reward) in both worlds.

  2. Inspiring…..Keep going guys…Nothing in this world can stop you….!

  3. Thank you very much for Mr.Balanagendran and Mr.Mrunal for a real inspiring article and also all the best to Mr.Balanagendran and Mr.Balaji.
    Frankly to say I was now feeling shame not to attempt civils this year inspite of preparing for one year.
    I created my own problems and that created a vicious circle and finally I stopped attempting this year.
    You both are really great to have such a courage and dedication to become IAS.
    I will definitely learn from you guys and surely strive hard from now on.
    All the best again

  4. Pingback: [Toppers Interview] Harshika Singh (AIR 8 /CSE 2011) Without Coaching, shares her journey and strategy with us « Mrunal

  5. Dear All,

    I am not NH by birth but due to a road accident i Lost my ey side and again ready to fight. Thanks all.

    regds,

  6. you people are great, wow that much of determination, its really inspiring, carry on dude…

  7. Hi Mrunal,Balanagendran & Balaji

    Thanks for the informative and inspiring article.

    I m planning to appear for civil services exam 2013. I have retinitis pigmentosa with 75% disability ( field vision around 10 degree).

    1.The recently out notification have posts which have different eligibility of Visual Impairment like IAS, IFS,etc allows only LV (Low vision) under VI where as IIS, Indian Postal service allow LV and B (Blind) . Can anyone please guide whether i fall under LV or B?

    2. There is a mention of extra time for VH. Does that extra time is only for people who opt for scribe?

    3. keeping in mind my gradual loss of vision which leads to complete blindness, what services i should opt for?

    Your suggestions and inputs would be helpful.

    Thanks & Regards,
    Vishal

    1. Dear Vishal sir.
      for your first question,i would like to tell you that don’t bother of those things as of now. just focus on your preparation, try to be as brutal as you can in it. because you have to clear prelims, then mains, then interview. yes sir, the notification says LV for IAS IFS and so on. but there were few histories have been by the persons who have total loss of vision. they have cleared the exam, got a good rank, they have approached administrative tribunal, now they are admitted into Indian administrative services. so, don’t worry as of now. for your second question, yes. those who are using scribes will be given an extra time of 10 minutes per hour. for your third question, i guess its littlebit tricky to answer. my only suggestion would be try to learn as much as you can. don’t break yourself, were as break the records. if you want further, i would be glad to assist you through Email. drop me an Email if you need anything. my mail ID is
      [email protected]

      1. Dear Balanagendran,

        Thanks a lot for answering my queries and guidance.
        Your further guidance would be really helpful.

        Thanks & Regards,
        Vishal

        1. Dear vishal sir And Balanagendran,

          Thanks for the inspirational article.
          I have also the same problem of RP with 75% Visual disability.
          1.Please let me know Vishal sir how r u Preparing for Civil services?
          2. Where can i get the audio cds for the current affairs?

          Thanks & Regards
          Pooja

    2. 1.LV (low Vision)
      2.Yes it is for those who opt for scribe

      Please let me know if we can have a chat regarding this

  8. Hi guys

    Thank you for this inspiring and practical article.

    My problem is same as Mr. Vishal’s (previous comment).

    It would be really helpful if you could clear our doubts as we don’t know who to ask this about.

    Thanks and regards’
    Swathi

    1. Respected Swathi mam.
      for your first question,i would like to tell you that don’t bother of those things as of now. just focus on your preparation, try to be as brutal as you can in it. because you have to clear prelims, then mains, then interview. yes, the notification says LV for IAS IFS and so on. but there were few histories have been made by the persons who have total loss of vision. they have cleared the exam, got a good rank, they have approached administrative tribunal, now they are admitted into Indian administrative services. so, don’t worry as of now. for your second question, yes. those who are using scribes will be given an extra time of 10 minutes per hour. for your third question, i guess its littlebit tricky to answer. my only suggestion would be try to learn as much as you can. don’t break yourself, were as break the records. if you want further, i would be glad to assist you through Email. drop me an Email if you need anything. my mail ID is
      [email protected]

      1. Hi guys,
        you al are very good in exchanging information it took me 10 days of serious surfing to find this page :-) .I am glad to see all this information in one page.
        I am visually challenged(40),I need resources(ebooks,mp3) to prepare for upsc, I coulod hardly find any audio resources on internet. Please provide and let me know any information you know.

  9. Respected Balanagendran sir,

    Thank you so much for your time and reply :-)

    Regards,
    Swathi

  10. thanks sir

  11. Hi guys,
    you al are very good in exchanging information it took me 10 days of serious surfing to find this page :-) .I am glad to see all this information in one page.
    I am visually challenged(40),I need resources(ebooks,mp3) to prepare for upsc, I coulod hardly find any audio resources on internet. Please provide and let me know any information you know.

  12. Thank you Friends for spreading such awareness among those who suffer just because of being unaware of the use of technology in a positive way. You both, for yourself and for the others discovered the way to tackle with the disabilities. Also your courage to accept your limitations and in spite of the limitations, a strong will to shine has inspired me. Really Really inspirational. Thanks guys for sharing your ideas here. Best wishes to you both.
    thank you so mush Mrunal sir…Best wishes to you too.

  13. sir i am colour blind ,can i prepare for ssc-cgl

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