What VIBEWA is Doing
VIBEWA always strives to empower, protect and guide visually impaired bank and finance sector employees across banks and other financial institutions.
VIBEWA Successfully Challenges Discriminatory Promotion Policy of SBI
Provision of alternative text based questions for visually impaired in IIBF examinations
VIBEWA DELEGATION comprising Shri. Rahul Gambir and Shri. Pinkesh Taylor met IIBF officials to discuss issues faced by visually challenged during JAIIB/CAIIB examinations. First, issue of pictorial questions in CAIIB which blind candidates cannot comprehend even with the help of scribe was impressed upon IIBF. The institute empathized with the candidates and assured to replace them with text based questions. Accordingly, alternative text based questions were provided exclusively to visually impaired candidates in December-January 2021 CAIIB examinations.
Secondly, VIBEWA sensitized the institute about the challenges faced by visually challenged in informing the institute in advance the particulars of the scribe writing the exam. VIBEWA suggested to capture the information about disability at the time of registration and sensitize the exam centre officials in advance so that the candidates can take the scribe available at that time. The institute started capturing information about disability from June 2020 for new registrations as well as existing members. VIBEWA expresses wholehearted gratitude to IIBF for kind and prompt action for the benefit of visually impaired candidates.
Thirdly, VIBEWA suggested to make the web site of IIBF accessible for blind people as per W3c guidelines to which the institute promised to take up with vendor. Fourthly, VIBEWA requested IIBF to make study material for JAIIB, CAIIB and other certification programmes available in accessible formats to which the institute responded positively. Finally, VIBEWA suggested to allow visually challenged to write the examinations on their own with screen readers instead of using scribe. The institute assured to implement this on pilot basis very soon. VIBEWA thanks IIBF for their time and attention in understanding the issues, and implementing the changes promptly.
INADEQUATE SPECIAL CONVEYANCE ALLOWANCE; VICTORY IN LEGAL BATTLE IN DELHI HIGH COURT
VIBEWA and All India Confederation of the Blind (AICB) together filed a case in Delhi high court on the inadequacy of special conveyance allowance of Rs. 400 presently paid to visually impaired bank employees and officers. The case was argued on the grounds that the meager sum of Rs. 400 is grossly insufficient when compared to the actual expenditure that blind incur for commutation between office and residence. The honourable court delivered the judgment in favour of VIBEWA & AICB and advised Indian Banks Association (IBA) to take it up as part of bipartite settlement. VIBEWA and AICB are in the process of holding talks with IBA to carry it further.
CAPACITY BUILDING OF VISUALLY IMPAIRED BANK EMPLOYEES THROUGH WEBINARS
VIBEWA believes in enrichment of knowledge and that sharpening of skills is the key to success for visually challenged bankers. Accordingly, a series of webinars were conducted during 2020 with experts from banking handling the sessions. Webinars included banking subjects like credit, recoveries, marketing, business communication etc., technology areas like MS excel, MS word etc., and legal issues pertinent to disability. VIBEWA intends to continue such webinars in future also.
Work from home (WFH) draft policy by VIBEWA
Covid necessitated many businesses including banking to adopt work from home. WFH is more significant for persons with disabilities due to the greater risk they have in commutation, inevitable dependence on touch functionality and human support. On persuasion by VIBEWA, government and most of the banks magnanimously extended WFH to visually impaired employees. Further, VIBEWA was the first organization to go so far to prepare a draft policy on work from home that includes identification of tasks that can be performed, infrastructure required and performance evaluation by employers which can be used as a ready reckoner by banks. The same can be downloaded here.
Work from home policy draft by VIBEWA
Farewell to Shri. Harish Kotian, Vice president of VIBEWA in September 2020
Shri. Harish Kotian who served as Assistant General Manager in RBI retired on August 31, 2020. Shri. Harish Kotian who rose from the ranks of telephone operator to AGM in the information technology department of RBI is an inspiration to many visually impaired bankers. He is active at social front also in moderating the popular Access India mailing list. He served as a vice president of VIBEWA from 2014 to 2019. VIBEWA celebrated his retirement by interviewing him which reflected on his glorious career in RBI and other personal achievements. VIBEWA thanks NAB Delhi for hosting the programme on their Youtube channel. It is available at Interview of Harish Kotian by VIBEWA
ALL INDIA CONFERENCE AND ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING AT HYDERABAD
First All India conference of VIBEWA was held on Sunday December 15, 2019, at Belson’s Taj mahal hotel Secunderabad. The event brought blind and low vision bank employees across the cadre and banks from the nation on one platform.
The conference was inaugurated by Shri Chhokaiah general Secretary of SBI Officers’ association Hyderabad circle and Shri Uttam kumar assistant treasurer of SBI Staff union Hyderabad Circle. Shri Chhokaiah and Shri Uttam kumar appreciated the positive spirit of VIBEWA and its special focus and assured to work in unison with VIBEWA.
The conference held four participative sessions namely on Assistive technology and accessibility conducted by Shri Rahul Gambhir and G. Vamshi, Job mapping by Shri Sudhakar, promotion and transfer by Shri Rajesh Asudani and Special casual leave and other ancillary benefits by Shri Krishnamurthy. Each session, in addition to outlining the findings of the report and inviting participants to spell out any related issues, also adopted resolutions for VIBEWA to address those issues.
The conference was followed by the annual general meeting in which the new Executive committee of VIBEWA headed by President Shri Rajesh Asudani and general secretary Shri Krishnamurthy was unanimously elected and installed.
The AGM adopted fourteen resolutions including those providing for life membership of VIBEWA instead of annual membership and others dealing with working conditions of VI bankers concerning assistive technology, accessibility, exemption from routine transfers, non-discrimination and reservation in promotion and increasing the special conveyance allowance etc.
The conference was attended by about sixty delegates from across India. VIBEWA thanks volunteers from IIMC College, Hyderabad who smoothened the process by appropriately helping the participants during the conference.
Guiding and assisting VI employees
VIBEWA is committed to support all VI bank and finance employees in their endeavor to have a meaningful work life. For this end, all its EC members have been offering guidance and support telephonically and also through mail to all who approach. Be it non-provision of assistive technology, inaccessibility of sites and software in the banks, not providing suitable or any work, frequent transfers, hurdles in promotion or any other matter, VIBEWA is forthcoming to help the affected members approach the matter in a positive and non-confrontational way. Any member desirous of seeking guidance can approach us by writing a mail to:
In its short journey, VIBEWA has been able to achieve following milestones:
Preparing Real time Dynamic database of Blind Bankers
VIBEWA has taken up compilation of real time data of blind and low vision bank employees across banks with a view to have continuous feedback about ground realities of their working life in light ofvarious government guidelines, which are, as a rule, left into papers. VIBEWA had, earlier, launched a mega survey of blind and low vision bank employees and obtained information under RTI from banks about implementation of government guidelines providing various facilities to blind bank employees and had submitted the report based on the information to the government. Now, it plans to make this a continuous activity.
To share your experiences and be a part of ongoing efforts for the betterment of working conditions of VI bank employees.
Seminar at Chennai
VIBEWA, in its series of holding seminars of VI bank employees country wide, conducted the seminar for blind and low vision banking professionals at Anna Centenary Library, Chennai on April 15, 2018. The seminar was a success as more than 55 visually impaired bankers across the banks and cadres participated, coming from as far as A.P. and Kerala in addition to those in and around Chennai. They shared their lived experiences as bankers with blindness and raised issues like non-availability of assistive technology, inaccessibility of sites and software used by banks, no special casual leave for disability, compulsion to do risky tasks with limited vision and non-implementation of government guidelines in general. VIBEWA office bearers promised to take these issues to concerned banks and try to resolve them. Some bankers also shared their success stories narrating how they have been performing effectively despite several challenges posed by blindness and insensitive attitude of society and acknowledged the need to have collective platform like VIBEWA.
Meeting UFBU leadership
VIBEWA delegation under the leadership of General secretary Shree Krishnamurthy met the leadership of United Forum of Bank Unions on March 3 and 4, 2018 at Chennai.
VIBEWA team met Com. D. Thomas Franco Rajendra Dev, General Secretary, AIBOC, Com. Rajagopal, General Secretary, BEFI Canara bank and Com. Ravishankar, Vice President, BEFI, and Com. CH Venkatachalam, General Secretary, AIBEA. VIBEWA impressed upon them the need for such an organization which was appreciated by all the 3 constituents. VIBEWA informed about the report of its mega survey which brought to light the glaring lapses on the part of many banks in implementation of government guidelines like not recruiting the mandatory 1%, not providing assistive technology, discrimination in promotions, unwarranted transfers etc. The issue of Rs. 400 special conveyance allowance being too meager and far below sufficiency was also highlighted. UFBU leadership informed that the issue of increase in conveyance allowance would be taken up in the on going wage negotiations. They also promised to take up the issues brought to light by VIBEWA with IBA, Government and parliamentary standing committee. They also encouraged VIBEWA to keep up its work and stay in dialog.
Taking the issues to the minister
VIBEWA Delegation met minister-of-state in PMO Dr. Jitendra Singh on September 23, 2016, and submitted to him a comprehensive report on the challenges before VI bank employees and the way ahead. The first-of-its kind report documents the lived experience of blind and low vision bank employees across the country and puts forth banks’version in form of RTI replies along with relevant legal provisions and suggestions to implement them on the ground. The minister positively assured to examine the report and issue necessary instructions. VIBEWA also submitted the said report to Shree Kamleshkumar Pande, the Chief Commissioner for persons with Disabilities and also to the Secretary ministry of social justice and Empowerment. They too have assured positive action.
Preparing a report on Challenges before VI bank employees
VIBEWA had launched the first of its kind survey to capture the lived experience of blind and low vision bank employees all over the country in 2015. It brought to fore numerous challenges being faced by VI bank employees in all the banks ranging from non-provision of assistive technology to Inaccessibility of internal sites and software and non-mapping of job roles etc. VIBEWA also gathered banks’version of realities by obtaining information under RTI and armed with all this, went on to compile the first-ever report on the challenges before VI bank employees and way forward. Besides collating survey and RTI results, VIBEWA has, in the report, given relevant legal provisions and suggestions to implement them on the ground.
MoF guidelines for financial sector
DoPT issued guidelines to provide certain facilities to persons with disabilities who are already in the service of the government to secure better working conditions for them. Initially, DoPT had omitted ministry of finance from these guidelines which would have resulted in complete exclusion of banks and all financial institutions from these guidelines. It was timely intervention by VIBEWA and frantic phone calls to secretaries which resulted in forwarding these guidelines to Ministry of finance on March 31, 2014. Even then, MoF took a long time in forwarding these guidelines to all banks and other financial institutions for compliance and did it after several reminders by VIBEWA.
The guidelines now have to be followed in letter and spirit by all financial institutions which would prove to be a game changer in ensuring productivity to the VI employees.
Assistive technology circular by RBI
VIBEWA believes in empowering VI bank employees and a necessary condition for this empowerment is the provision of assistive technology at the workplace. More often than not, assistive technology is not provided at all or provided after much dilly-dallying by the banks and more as a matter of grace than as a matter of right.
It was constant petitioning and persuasion by VIBEWA members in their personal capacity as well, which made Reserve Bank of India, the banking regulator to issue circular making provision for providing assistive technology to its blind employees. VIBEWA hopes all banks would follow suit and have centralized policy in place for assistive technology which would not leave VI employees joining the banks at the mercy of branch and regional heads for it.
Enhanced special conveyance allowance in banks
An amount of Rs. 400 is paid to VI employees as special conveyance allowance in the banking industry. RBI is the first bank to enhance it to Rs. 800 after such a demand by VIBEWA. We are trying to have it substantially increased across the banking sector and have been writing to various authorities for it.
Jobs performed by VI employees in banks
VIBEWA believes in empirical approach. So, we put together a compilation of actual job roles and activities performed by various blind and low vision persons in banks. The inputs were gathered from the persons who actually do those job activities. The document is a work in progress and is a potential guiding resource for VI employees as well as sighted managers who are struggling for proper job roles for VI.
We have duly forwarded the document to all the banks for their consideration. State Bank of India replied stating it has been forwarded to the concerned department.
Mega survey of VI bank employees
VIBEWA had launched the first of its kind mega survey for VI bank employees across the country in 2015, to ascertain the ground realities of their working life. It was a huge success and received replies from more than one fourth of the then strength of VI bank employees. all the inputs formed the basis of the comprehensive report on working conditions of VI bank employees submitted to the minister-in-charge DoPT in September 2016.
RTI to banks
VIBEWA had filed RTI applications to all the banks in 2015, to get their version of ground realities of working conditions of VI employees. The replies or the lack thereof also formed the basis of the comprehensive report on working conditions of VI bank employees which was submitted to the minister-in-charge of DoPT, CCPD and the Secretary MSJE in September 2016.
VIBEWA meeting at Hyderabad in December, 2014
We organized a meeting for blind and low vision bank employees in December, 2014 at EFLU, Hyderabad. 25 visually challenged bankers attended the meting and voiced their issues at work place. VIBEWA leadership promised to address the issues in the forth coming representations with authorities.
Meeting at Pune in May 2015
A meeting was organized at the Equal Opportunity cell of Savitri Bai Fule Pune University in May 2015 . 8 blind bankers attended the meeting and discussed about the issues they face at work place.