Interview from India (Part 2)

Listserv Interview # 2: Rajasekhar Vijjeswarapu, Part 2

In this second part of the interview, we learn more about Rajasekhar himself and discover a most dynamic and enthusiastic gentleman, a husband and a father who is making diligent efforts to address diverse disability issues in high education throughout India.

Consider: Besides “crisscrossing the country” to promote change in disability services in India, Rajasekhar was the first from India to have attended the CSUN Conference in 1999. After meeting George Kersher (creator of digitized books), “Raj” introduced DAISY to India and is also now the training and outreach consultant for Bookshare in India. Raj has studied the “Equality Unit” at Leeds University in the UK and studied higher education approaches to disability in both the US and UK to fashion the disability services office (Cell for the Disabled) at his university, The English and Foreign Languages University where he is associate professor in the department of English Literature from the School of Literary Studies.

It will probably be no surprise at this point to learn that Raj takes on numerous other diverse roles or initiatives including one as the Deputy Coordinator for the Cell for the Disabled, their disability resources unit, and serves as a member of other units at other universities. He has also gone to the American Consulate in Hyderabad and has found interest there in setting up an exchange program for student scholars or faculty or other disability service professionals to visit India for an extended visit or a semester leading to some from India going to the US to do the same. Of course, as a member of AHEAD, Raj is very interested in expanding the organization’s connections to India or the Asian region with either a regional or affiliate group and perhaps an international conference at some point.

Disability Studies is an area of great interest to Rajasekhar, and he is undertaking research efforts in this area as well. With a discipline that connects to philosophy, education, history, social science, the arts and so much more, Raj is looking to “define disability in an Indian context.” He has found that references to the disabled have been identified in temples from more than 400 years ago.

The AHEAD membership no doubt will look forward to meeting Raj at the 2015 AHEAD Conference in St. Paul this July, as well as hearing more about his initiatives in India and the region or perhaps partnering with him in one of the initiatives or in his research.