NEW DELHI — Tapas Bhardwaj, like many other students this year, found the Class 12 CBSE examinations tough. But Tapas' incredible story -- of grit and determination -- is unlike that of any other students of his age. The 18-year-old, who is blind, scored 95 percent in his school-leaving exams on Monday and is planning a career in law.
"The papers were difficult. I was really tense, but I calmly kept attempting each paper," he said. "If you don't panic then your confidence will return," Tapas told HuffPost India after getting his results.
Tapas, who studied English, Psychology, Sociology, Music, Legal Studies and Computer Science at the Delhi Public School, R.K. Puram, credited his parents and teachers with his success.
“Some teachers teach, some teachers teach and explain, some teachers teach, explain and demonstrate, but some teachers teach, explain, demonstrate and inspire-ate,” he said. “My teachers at DPS have inspired me since the beginning.”
Tapas joined DPS junior school, East of Kailash, in the second grade.
The teenager has been aided all his life by a computer and software programme called JAWS (Job Access With Speech), which provides speech and Braille output for the visually impaired.
"It has never been easy but if you keep doing difficult things it begins to get easier."
“It has never been easy but if you keep doing difficult things it begins to get easier," he said. "I've also had the best technology to help me through school and I have always been treated equally."
When Tapas was a child, his parents decided that he would always compete in the real world to the best of his abilities. “We had confidence in him and he has family support so we knew he would excel,” said his father, Arvind Raj Sharma. "We have always been proud of him, not just because of the results," he said.
While JAWS helped Tapas follow teachers in a regular classroom, the teenager railed against the lack of books available in Braille or in an online format for visually impaired students.
“India was the first country to ratify the Marrakech Treaty but the government has not followed up on its promise," he said. "We have an equal right to access books available to anyone else."
The Marrakech Treaty requires governments to make published works available to visually impaired persons.
Tapas has already qualified in entrance tests for leading law schools in India, and is now figuring out which would one would best suit his needs.