Young Voices in Delhi organise essay writing competition

Young Voices campaigners in Delhi celebrated the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3rd December by organising an essay writing competition for people with disabilities, in partnership with the Daisy Froum of India.

Essays were submitted from states across India including Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Jharkhand. Congratulations to the winner of the competition, Shivan Gupta from Delhi, who wrote an essay on ‘Why visually impaired students need books in accessible media’. He was awarded with a cash prize.

Education for girls with disabilities

Here’s Young Voices campaigner Ashwini Angadi from India speaking about the importance of education for girls with disabilities. Ashwini was speaking at the 2nd Annual Global Education & Skills Forum in Dubai. More than 850 world leaders, business leaders, government ministers, and education experts attended the forum, including President Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.

Young Voices campaigner from India on USA exchange programme

Ajit, a Young Voices campaigner from Delhi, has just started a one year schools exchange programme in the USA, through the PAX Academic Exchange Mission. He is the first visually impaired person from India to have this opportunity.

He’s made a great start – he has been elected as vice president in his student council, and achieved 100% in his first set of exams. We wish Ajit all the best in his studies!

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Award-winning Young Voices campaigner returns to New York

Ashwini and UNSGYoung Voices campaigner Ashwini Angadi from India returns to the UN in New York this week to call on world leaders to make sure that disability is included in the post-2015 development agenda that will replace the Millennium Development Goals. In July, Ashwini was in New York to celebrate Malala Day and receive a ‘Youth Courage Award for Education’ from Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy for Education. Ashwini is co-chairing a new Youth Education Crisis Committee set up by Gordon Brown. The Committee will lead the call of young people around the world for a robust and urgent response to the education crisis, starting with the 1 million Syrian refugee children.

Making transport accessible in Bhopal

Young Voices in Bhopal, India have successfully campaigned for announcements to be made about disabled compartments at their local railway station. When they first raised the issue they didn’t get a response. But they refused to give up, and after continuous pressure on the station master, all station announcements now include information about disabled compartments.

Ashwini Angadi wins a UN education award

Ashwini Angadi, Young Voices member from India, speaking at the UN in New York

Ashwini Angadi, a Young Voices campaigner from India, received a ‘UN Youth Courage Award for Education’ on 12th July as part of the celebrations for Malala Day.

The award was presented to her at the UN in New York by Gordon Brown, who is currently the UN Special Envoy for Global Education. She was chosen for the award for showing exemplary leadership and perseverance in standing up for the right to education, often against some of the most adverse circumstances.

Born with a visual impairment, Ashwini was brought up in a poor rural community in India. She fought to get an education, and overcame the odds to graduate from Bangalore University with outstanding grades. She gave up an excellent job with an IT firm to work as a facilitator for Young Voices in India, and campaign for the rights of people with disabilities.

Young Voices campaigners from India overcome the odds to achieve outstanding exam results

Young Voices member from India Kartik Sawhney

Young Voices campaigner from India Kartik Sawhney almost didn’t get the opportunity to study science at school because of his visual impairment. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) was not convinced Kartik would be able to handle the ‘visual inputs’ – graphs, diagrams and models – required for science. He wrote more than two dozen letters to the CBSE, had an NGO campaign and his school negotiate for him. He has proved all the efforts were worth it by scoring a 95% aggregate in science with computers and he is now off to Stanford University to study computer science.

Meanwhile, another Young Voices campaigner, Vibhu Sharma, became the first visually impaired student in India to write her Board exams with the help of JAWS screen-reading software. She passed her exams with flying colours, with an overall aggregate mark of 90%, and came top of the year in Multimedia and Web Technology. Young Voices have been campaigning tirelessly for over a year to make this happen. Vibhu went to the CBSE office several times, to give them a demo of how she used computer and explain how it made people who are visually impaired independent. Just two days before the Board Exams, the CBSE took a giant step forward by allowing all visually challenged students to use computers with JAWS, a major policy change and a great achievement for Young Voices.