A visually impaired educationist, Mr. Sanjeev Sonawane received Helen Keller Award 2016 on the occasion of World Disability Day on December 3, 2016. He played a significant role in developing educational programmes which enable young blind people to secure professional employment opportunities.
Mr. Sanjeev is working as the head of Education and Extension Department at Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU). He is one among the key researchers in inclusive education and practices in India. With an objective to serve students with disabilities across various colleges in India, he set up ‘Advanced Technology Blind Student’s Learning Cente’ in the year 2008. Currently, the centre is serving students from 700 colleges and 52 academic departments under the university.
Director of National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People, Javed Abidi explained that the enrollment of disabled students in higher education had increased significantly due to the support from the Blind Student’s Learning Centre. Mr. Sanjeev is one among the 12 awardees who were recognised for their significant work in empowering differently-abled.
Javed Abidi further explained that around 40 students who were trained under Blind Student’s Learning Centre have been working in both government and the private sector. Out of them, two are entrepreneurs.
Mr. Sanjeev has developed a unique programme which focuses on developing professional opportunities for the disabled students. He has also played a significant role in carrying out research activities in inclusive education as well as academic and web accessibility. On the other hand, he also guides and supports various other institutes in India.