Tiffany Maria Brar
Chennai, Tamil Nadu
|Parent(s)||Tej Pratap Singh Brar,|
|Alma mater||Government College for Women, Thiruvananthapuram, Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University, Coimbatore|
|Occupation||Founder of Jyothirgamaya Foundation, Disability Rights Activist|
|Profession||Social worker, Special educator|
|Known for||Social activist, Motivational Speaker, Inclusion, Disability rights and Advocacy|
|Awards||National Award from the President of India for Best Role Model, Holman Prize, Nari Shakti Puraskar the highest civilian Honour for woman in India from the President of India|
Tiffany Brar is an Indian community service worker who became blind as an infant due to oxygen toxicity. Brar is the founder of the Jyothirgamaya Foundation, a non-profit organizationthat teaches life skills to blind people of all ages. She is a trainer, a campaigner for disability awareness and an advocates for an inclusive society.
Tiffany Brar is the only daughter of General T. P. S. Brar and Leslie Brar.Tiffany was born in Chennai, India, where her father was posted, and grew up in Punjab.
Tiffany Brar had Terry Syndrome and became blind six months after her birth.Due to her father's occupation, Brar travelled widely. Because she was blind, verbal communication was important and she became multilingual.
During her childhood, Brar learnt to fluently speak five Indian languages.She started her education in Great Britain while her father was posted there. When her family returned to India, Brar studied in schools for the blind, in integrated schools and in military schools. After completing her primary education in Kerala, her father was transferred to Darjeeling, where Tiffany studied at the Mary Scott Home for the Blind.
As a blind person, Brar found school difficult.She was made to sit at the back of the class and was sometimes not allowed to answer questions. Her Braille notes either arrived late or did not arrive at all. She was sheltered and protected by her parents.
At her schools, Brar experienced segregation and isolation by other pupils, and was excluded from events. She reached first position in the CBSE board exam in 12th gradein a school alongside sighted counterparts.
After completing school in 2006, Brar joined for the bachelor's degree programme in English literature at Government College for Women, Thiruvananthapuram, affiliated to the University of Kerala.After graduating in 2009, Brar started working for Braille Without Borders as a telephone operator. She travelled to various organizations where she came across many underprivileged blind people who were confined to their homes and lacked proper training. During one trip, she found roads are slippery or covered with stones, making them unsuitable for blind people, and that in some parts of India, blind people are confined to their homes by unsupportive societies. This encouraged her to found the Jyothirgamaya Foundation to support the education of blind and partially sighted children. In Kerela, visually impaired children are trained in Malayalam, the regional language, through text-recognition software but do not attend special schools and are taught neither Braille nor English. Brar campaigns though Jyothirgamaya to change the system.
After working for two years, Brar pursued her B.Ed in special education (visual impairment) from Sree Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University in Coimbatore.In July 2012, she began running the Jyothirgamaya (meaning "leading to light") mobile school for the blind. The idea for the organization came from a retired police officer from Tamil Nadu, N. Krishnaswamy, to help children constrained by poverty, disability, or distance.
In 2018, the Government of India praised Brar for her efforts during flooding in Wayanad, where she collected materials for relief camps.
Brar now travels alone throughout India and abroad.
Tiffany Brar's first job was as a receptionist, after which, she studied for a B.Ed in special education at Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University then went on to found the Jyothirgamaya Foundation in July 2012to improve the lot of blind and partially sighted people in Kerala.
Brar set up a mobile school for blind children, saying; "If the blind cannot go to school then the school shall go to them."She was inspired with this idea after her leadership training at Kanthari run by a German lady, Sabriye Tenberken and her Dutch partner, Paul Kronenberg at Vellayani.
Through the Jyothirgamaya Foundation, Brar trains blind people in Braille, mobility, basic computer use, and life skills.She has also recently initiated a project, Road to Independence, which holds training camps in Kerala. She is an artist, teacher and motivational speaker, and has served as an ambassador for the WWF's 2016 Earth Hour campaign in India. In 2020 she, became the first Indian to receive Holman Prize from the US-based organisation LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
In 2019, Brar opened a preparatory school and kindergarten for visually-impaired children in Thiruvananthapuram, which was inaugurated by Kerala Health Minister K.K.Shailaja.
Brar designed the Tiffy template, which was built by inventor Paul D'Souza; it is a small template that identifies Indian currency notes to prevent blind people from being cheated by traders.
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