Helping visually-impaired find their voice on radio

Satish Navale traveled around India for over eight years, learning radio production and recording his experiences, to achieve his dream of working in radio despite being visually impaired

The Times of India
Friday, July 10, 2009

By Laxmi Birajdar

Pune --- Owing to his lack of sight, he could not fulfll his desire of working for Akashwani. Satish Navale, therefore, dreamt of working in radio and also providing employment opportunities to the visually challenged.

To achieve these goals, Navale travelled across the country over eight years, teaching himself radio production by recording his experiences as radio programmes.

Today, Navale spearheads a radio series 'Dnyandrushtiche Saadhak Aamhi' which offers others like him a chance to work in the medium. The series, aimed at the visually challenged, is currently being aired on Vidyawani, the community radio station of the University of Pune (UoP).

"The visually impaired need to be sufficiently educated and properly employed. I wanted to work with Akashwani but my blindness was a huge impediment. That's why I decided to travel to various parts of the country to record people's views and issues," Navale says.

His trips to Mumbai, Rajasthan and even Jammu and Kashmir yielded him important lessons in radio production. "These travels taught me how to communicate with people, record what they are saying and understand their problems. That's how the process of self-education on radio production began for me," says Navale.

The result of his efforts were private radio recordings on the socio-economic conditions of the flower-sellers at the Ashtavinayak temple in Mumbai and on the employment opportunities for the common man in Rajasthan.

Interacting with soldiers who had fought in the Kargil War was another high point. "I recorded their experiences and presented them in a programme I had organised at Garware college in 2001. That's when I knew radio was my calling," he recalls.

Navale succeeded in airing his first radio programme on Akashwani, Pune in 2002. It was based on Baba Amte, which Navale put together by travelling to the social activist's ashram,' Anandvan, in Chandrapur district.

Today, Navale is employed as an educational researcher in the department of education, UoP, that has also begun airing radio programmes for, of and by visually impaired students through Vidyawani.

"The idea is to create radio programmes for these students keeping their academic, co-curricular and extra-curricular growth in mind. In fact, we also hope to generate employment opportunities for the visually impaired in the field of radio production and the rest of the electronic media," says Navale.

The use of mediums like the telephone, internet and satellite communication will help better educate the visually impaired, he feels. There are several plans in the pipeline. These include recording lectures by visually impaired graduates and teachers for radio programmes for the Indira Gandhi National Open University, translating literature by the blind and organising a national literary meet of the blind in December.

Navale is also busy developing tests for visually impaired students in consultation with Alka Wadkar, a faculty member of the UoP's psychology department. "We are also planning to offer phone counselling to blind students for the common entrance test (CET) in September," he informs.