Open shutter into the unseen world

Today is World Sight Day
Last Updated 13 October 2010, 19:04 IST

  The picture captured all the beauty of the surroundings and the colour contrast of the green grass and the milky-white water presented… Only that Preetha herself can't see and appreciate the beauty of her handiwork as she is blind.

"This is the first time I am holding the camera," Preetha told Deccan Herald. "It's exciting to know that I will be letting others appreciate the beauty of vision through my work."

A student from Chinmaya school, Preetha was one of the 35 visually challenged persons gathered at the premises of Shankara Eye Hospital in the City to enjoy the scenic beauty through the borrowed eyes of the camera. Teaching them the techniques was the man who has made "photography for the blind" his life endeavour.

"It is possible for the blind to perceive the immediate environment with other senses," said Partho Bhawmick, founder of Beyond Sight Foundation that aims to achieve social integration of the visually challenged through art.

"There are a few techniques to decode the information and use their cameras effectively to capture the vista in front of them. Of course, there are technology such as "Seeing with sound" (the augmented reality and soundscape-based synthetic vision for the blind) which gives the visually challenged the voice description of the environment allowing them to get the focus and the position of the camera right."

Partnering with Shankara Eye Hospital, Beyond Sight Foundation is marking the World Sight Day with the photography workshop for the visually challenged organised for the first time in the city.

At the workshop, trainees were taught how to use their imagination to perceive the environment and shot pictures on an ordinary camera without any special technology.
"As clinicians, we have been taught how to examine the patient and diagnose the condition. But we find it harder to assist them when they come up with question on how to solve problems that arise from their sudden loss of vision," explained Dr Kaushik Murali, Paediatric Ophthalmologist at Shankara Eye Hospital and director of "Namma Kannu" project that seeks to address vision-related condition amongst children from economically underprivileged communities.

"This prompted us to think about rehabilitation seriously. Now we are working with National Association for the Blind, Karnataka (NABK) and Enable India to link parents and their visually challenged children with various kinds of rehabilitation," he added.

Dr Murali also said that the hospital is in the process of putting together a rehabilitation manual for clinicians to educate them on various ways of equipping visually challenged persons with living and job skills. "The idea is to empower clinicians to answer the patient's questions on how to piece together their life and lead a normal life," he said.

Photo exhibition

The City will also have an opportunity to witness photographs taken by the visually challenged at a workshop in Mumbai conducted by the non-profit medical-cum-rehabilitation NGO retina India, which would display the pictures at the Taj West End Art Gallery.

Managing Trustee of Retina India Dr Rajat N Agrawal told the media on Wednesday on the eve of World Sight Day that the exhibition will be held between October 19-25.
“We are striving to find a cure for some of the most complex retinal conditions such as Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP)," he said. "But it is equally important to empower those with vision challenge to accomplish their goals as today technology and changing social attitude are making it possible."

(Published 13 October 2010, 19:04 IST)

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