The Inspiring and Astounding Work of Visually Impaired Indian Photographers

By Anoushka Mathews

Visually impaired people from India are exploring a visual art form like photography. Here’s to the techniques that guide them and the passion that motivates them.

So many in our country are shocked at the mention of photography by the blind, they cannot seem to wrap their head around the concept. Why and how would a blind person take a photograph?  Like most photographers, persons with blindness too have been drawn to photography out of a curiosity to explore the world through images.

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Scoreboard

Our bi- monthly newsletter, Scoreboard is available free of cost. It includes information on the Score Foundation’s current work and highlights of recent successes, as well as items of interest to people with visual impairment, their families and colleagues. Scoreboard is sent out by email. To subscribe please send in your email address along with your contact details to content@eyeway.org

A teacher’s fight for justice

30 year old Kishore (name changed) is 100% blind. But his disability has in no way impacted his passion for academics. A meritorious student, Kishore’s love for English literature, led him to complete his Bachelors, Masters and MPhil in the subject. He further pursued a B.Ed degree and secured a job of Primary Teacher in the Bhuribha Lallubhai Mehta School in Singarva, Ahmedabad.
In September 2016, he came across an advertisement for the post of a Trained Graduate Teacher (TTS) by Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS). Kishore promptly applied for the position and received a Call Letter for the written examination. He undertook the exam with the help of a scribe. The question paper was in multiple choice format but there were also some diagram questions that needed to be answered. Given his vision impairment, Kishore felt that his inability to accurately answer the diagram questions adversely impacted his performance in the exam. When the results were declared, he missed the cutoff for the interview by one mark.
Disheartened, he contacted the KVS authorities to report the issue and request for a reassessment of his diagram questions understanding his limitations to respond to the same. But his pleas fell on deaf ears.
That’s when Kishore decided to take strong action and contacted Eyeway for help. After examining all facts in the matter, our counselor put him in touch with legal experts to help him file a petition in the matter. A writ was filed in Gujarat High Court seeking relief for Kishore and the court passed an interim order stating that one vacancy be kept open for the TTS post until the next hearing.
Eyeway is in touch with Kishore and will continue to offer support until his matter is resolved and justice is duly served.

Catch them young

15 year old Tejas (name changed) has been undergoing eye treatment at the Low Vision Enhancement Centre of Shroff Charity Eye Hospital, Daryaganj, Delhi. He began losing his eyesight in February 2016 when he adversely reacted to an injection while being treated for another condition. Ms. Sonia at the Low Vision Enhancement Centre suggested visiting Score Foundation in order to understand how to proceed further. And so Tejas and his parents arrived at the Score Foundation office, hopeless and anxious. They poured their heart out to our Helpdesk team. Our team, familiar with the attitudes that ignorance fosters, reassured his parents that blindness is in no way an impediment to personal growth and success. They shared with him many examples of persons who were visually impaired and continuing to live normal, independent lives.
Tejas, a confident young boy, was keen to hear what our counselors had to say. Our team told him about the various rehabilitation courses that were available for visually impaired persons. They contacted All India Confederation of the Blind (AICB) on behalf of Tejas and inquired about admission. They also helped procure audio books for 9th standard from National Association for Blind, R.K Puram to ensure that Tejas does not miss out on his studies. We will be keeping in touch with Tejas and his family to ensure that he enrolls in AICB for the coming session. Our team will not rest till Tejas is finally back in school.

Getting back on track

Being diagnosed with vision impairment early on in life is a challenging affair. This challenge is compounded when students, unaware of the plethora of opportunities available, drop out of school. The belief that life stops after blindness continues to persist despite so many visually impaired persons excelling in a variety of fields.
23 year old Piyush (name changed) a resident of Motihari Bihar, discontinued schooling after Class 8 due to his vision impairment. For many years he sat at home, engrossing himself playing the Tabla and Harmonium.
However, he desired to get his life back on track by finishing school and securing a job. Desperate for guidance, he called the Eyeway Helpdesk. Our counselors informed him about the vocational and mobility training programmes for the blind run at various institutions. The Helpdesk put him in touch with the Blind Relief Association, Delhi as well as the National Institute for Visually Handicapped (NIVH), Dehradun. They also suggested that he enroll in an open school.
Piyush not only enrolled himself in a vocational training program at the Blind Relief Association, Delhi but also completed his class 10th Board Exams though CBSE (correspondence) this June. Having expressed an interest in pursuing music, our Helpdesk has been working hard to find him a good teacher.
Piyush aspires to teach music at the University level some day. We are certain that if he continues to doggedly chase his dream with grit and determination he will surely succeed. Our counselors have assured him that they are there to guide and assist him whenever he is in need of any kind of information from the world of vision impairment.

Banking on Eyeway

40 year old Rajesh (name changed), a class 4 employee of the Indian Navy is posted in Lonavala, Maharashtra. He has an account at the local State Bank of India and recently decided to apply for an ATM card. The bank officer rejected his request claiming that he could not issue an ATM to a 100% visually impaired person. Rajesh tried to argue his case but was unable to convince the Bank Officer to issue him a card.
Rajesh heard the Eyeway promo on the radio and immediately got in touch and shared with our counselor the issue he was facing at his bank. Our counselor confirmed that the bank could not deny him of this basic right. They informed him about the RBI guidelines that clearly state that the bank rules are same for both sighted and visually impaired.  They e-mailed to him the relevant circulars and guidelines and urged him to share the same with his Bank Officer.
He submitted the circulars to his local branch and was duly given his ATM card 8 days later. He now uses his card regularly at the talking ATMs. He plans to avail of other bank facilities in times to come. This time round he knows he has the information to make the bank officers aware of the rules.

Changing destinies

Rajesh (name changed) works as an advocacy coordinator at the Shalom-Care Centre for HIV patients. Through the course of his field work around slums of Delhi he met Meera (name changed).
Meera is a 19 year old visually impaired girl who comes from an economically marginalized background. She lives with her mother who is in no position to provide her with the specialized care and support she needs. Rajesh very much wished that Meera too, like other girls her age, could have access to a good education and healthy living conditions. He got in touch with Eyeway wanting to know what her options were. Our counselors immediately suggested that the best way forward was to get in touch with NAB-CBW (National Association for the Blind Centre for Blind Women). NAB-CBW caters to equipping visually impaired girls and women with the education, vocation and life skills they require to operate independently. Rajesh, on behalf of Meera, contacted NAB CBW. Meera has since successfully enrolled with NAB-CBW. Rajesh and Meera were extremely grateful to the Eyeway counselors for their timely support and information that will make a lasting impact in Meera’s life.