Technology in society: a modern day Anne Sullivan

Cassie Gibbs
Assistant News Editor

Troy University held its 19th annual Helen Keller lecture series on Tuesday.
The purpose of the lecture series is to raise awareness of the challenges that face those who live with physical limitations.
Helen Keller, a deaf and blind woman from Tuscumbia, became an inspiration to many others who were living with physical limitations by showing them that a person with limitations could live a full and happy life.
Helen Keller was taught to speak, read Braille, and write with the help of Anne Sullivan, a pioneer in the field of educating those with physical limitations.
Through the hard work of Sullivan and her personal determination to succeed, Helen Keller graduated with honors from Radcliffe College and soon become an internationally known speaker and writer.
Many different organizations that help those with limitations were represented at the lecture series, including the Helen Keller Foundation for Research and Education, the Alabama Department of Education, the Alabama Department of Mental Health, the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, and the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind. These organizations are also major supporters of the Helen Keller lecture series.
This year’s speaker was Anindya “Bapin” Bhattacharyya, a technology development and training specialist at the Helen Keller National Center.
His lecture was titled “Power of Technology Leads to Self-Success.”
Bhattacharyya became deaf as a child in India and later became blind at the age of nine as a result of ashes being thrown into his eyes.
After four years of living with multiple disabilities, Bhattacharyya’s father found a school in America that had the ability to educate Bhattacharyya while helping him to overcome his disabilities.
With the help of teachers and family support, Bhattacharyya was able to finish high school and attend college, first at Gardner-Webb and then the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science.
Bhattacharyya spoke about how technology affected his life and allowed him to be as successful as he is.
“Helen Keller was always with Anne Sullivan. But, where is my Anne Sullivan? I don’t just have one Anne Sullivan. I have many, including technology,” Bhuttacharyya said.
With the help of a portable GPS with a Braille display, Bhattacharyya is able to enjoy a walk with his son while being aware of what is in his surroundings.
Bhattacharyya said that his smartphone allows him to stay in contact with his family who are still in India.
Bhattacharyya was a major supporter of an attempt to get people with disabilities the technology they needed at an affordable price.
“Technology is extremely important,” said Bhattacharyya. “However, it is extremely expensive for people with disabilities. I realized that deaf-blind people needed access to communication because the world is closed to them without it.”
Through the efforts of Bhattacharyya and others, President Barack Obama signed into law the Video and Communications Access Act in 2010.
This law allows for deaf-blind people to receive communications equipment for free, depending on income.
Sharon Joyner, a junior interpreting major from Andalusia, said that she was really impressed with Bhattacharyya and his accomplishments.
“I really enjoyed listening to what he had to say,” Joyner said. “He’s gone through a lot and he’s overcome a lot. He’s definitely an inspiration.”

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