Hello folks – back from a long hiatus! I was so busy the past few weeks organizing the Deaf Education Rally in Ottawa, Ontario for May 11. It was such a beautiful day and the event went well. Let’s hope that the Ontario and Canadian governments listen to us.
Anyway, I had to post about a Deaf Blind guy I consider a dear friend and role model. I met Anindya “Bapin” Bhattacharyya during Seabeck Retreat for the Deaf Blind in Seattle, WA in 2005 and I’ve been blessed to have this intelligent and charming guy in my life. Bapin immigrated from India when he was a young teenager, already Deaf from birth and became blind at a young age from a nasty incident with a jealous fellow soccer player and burnt ash. Bapin was educated at the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston and then later received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas in Little Rock.
Bapin now works as a technology expert with the Helen Keller National Center in Long Island, NY and makes his rounds by travelling worldwide and nationwide to educate the blind and the sighted of advancements made in Deaf Blind technology.
As a Director of the Higgins/Hogue administration, I had the fortune of having Bapin come to Gallaudet and give an inspiring presentation about varied technologies that benefitted the Deaf Blind and showed us an array of extensive, intelligent and expensive equipment. Around 200 people attended the presentation, which beat other Directors of SBG’s presentations.
His presence has taught me so much about independence, moving on with life, optimism, humour, patience and opening your mind to what’s unseen.
I want to show you a video clip of Bapin by CBS TV. I apologize if this is not closed caption, but still wanted to show this to you. There doesn’t seem to be any transcript.
*EDIT* see transcript below, thanks to the same friend!
To view the video, click on the link:
Thanks to a friend for the heads up!
To view Bapin’s website, which is full of information on his life and his business:
Bapin is one of my role models and heroes. I hope to see him soon in the city that never sleeps, just 2 of us, with his Leader Dog Dinah and his trusty GPS. (Yes, he gets around New York City with his braille-to-text gizmo and a GPS in Braille.. amazing, isn’t it?)
and yes, more blogs coming soon. 😉
TRANSCRIPT OF CBS VIDEO:
MICHELLE MILLER (CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT): Anindya Bhattacharyya has one clear vision and one mission: to live life as independently as possible, and change the lives of hundreds of thousands of deaf-blind people like himself, throughout the world.
MILLER: Nice… to… meet… you.
MILLER (continued): and it’s what brought Bapin, as he is better known, to the Helen Keller National Center in New York.
(BAPIN) (VOICE OF INTERPRETER): Didn’t know that I’d be a techie in the tech world.
MILLER: This tech whiz not only teaches students, but has help technology companies develop new gadgets, allowing the blind and deaf to navigate the same hearing world, as he told us through an interpreter:
ANINDYA “BAPIN” BHATTACHARYYA–DEAF BLIND TECHNOLOGY SUPERVISOR: I like to empower them to be successful in whatever they attempt. I feel like it’s a good thing that I do.
MILLER: It’s a long way from the dirt poor village of his native India where he was born deaf 35 years ago. Bapin came to America after a troubled childhood and fell in love with the field of high tech. [Brief clip: BAPIN: It’s a wonderful communication tool…] His contribution: Research and development. He’s done field tests on the Braille-modified laptop phone used by the blind-deaf to talk to the rest of the world via a speaking operator. [Voice of computer: To view an alphabetical listing…] … helped develop a tactile talking tablet, which allows people like him explore street grids of cities they plan to visit. Then there’s the SBC, or “Screen Braille Communicator,” which the deaf-blind can use to do their shopping, order meals in restaurants, or communicate with an airline cabin crew. Bapin travels the world using using this equipment.
MILLER (typing on an SBC): I bet…. this is great…. on a date….
MILLER (cont.): And there’s the portable, global satellite positioning system. It helps Bapin navigate while his interpreter drives.
(Woman driving car): Bapin told me to take a right on Shore Road.
MILLER: So you’re better equipped than they are.
BAPIN: Yeah, the sighted person depends on me!
MILLER: That’s right. That must be a good feeling.
BAPIN: Yeah, it is.
JANE HECKER-CAIN–INTERPRETER (laughing): He found my husband’s place of employment. I told him the address, which we just passed, and he just named the name of the company. That’s pretty cool!
(Man): Bapin is clearly one of the brightest deaf-blind people I’ve ever met.
MILLER: More than anything, Bapin’s boss says he’s a role model for the students he instructs.
JOE McNULTY–EXEC. DIRECTOR, HELEN KELLER NAT’L CENTER: We have people working for major companies now, where they’ll be handling a client or a customer’s account through the Internet, and the person has no idea they’re communicating with an employee who happens to be deaf-blind.
MILLER: Ironically, Bapin says he would have never found his calling, if he hadn’t been blinded at the age of nine by a jealous kid who threw ashes in his eyes.
MILLER (cont.): Would you say that becoming blind was a blessing in disguise?
BAPIN: Exactly, exactly. I would say that.
MILLER: Bapin plans to spend the rest of his life passing on his knowledge and enthusiasm to his students, a case quite literally of the blind…. leading the blind. Michelle Miller, CBS News, New York.