Blind with Camera, an initiative of Beyond Sight Foundation by Partho Bhowmick truly made me change my perception that a visually impaired armed with a camera isn’t something unimaginable. Today, I got the opportunity to attend the Click Rights Photo Exhibition put up by Children, Rights and You (CRY) along with volunteers from Beyond Sight Foundation by Partho Bhowmick (initiator of Blind with Camera), in Mumbai. This isn’t your usual exhibition; it is different and indeed, special.
As tech writers, we attend numerous events and put on our scrutinizing gloves the moment a product is unveiled. But here I were at a photo exhibition, just see what photography means to different people. Taking pictures or quickly capturing a cherished moment is a one off thing for most of us. But it’s even more exhilarating to see photography serve as a medium to create awareness and capture challenges that disabled children face in education. The photos came from a workshop by Beyond Sight Foundation by Partho Bhowmick and CRY.
On display, were pictures clicked by Satvir Jogi, a student of St. Xavier's College with a low vision and sighted volunteer Harsh Vyas. All pictures were based on the theme – challenges faced by disabled children in education. With basic training of photography, volunteers were sent to special schools as well as government schools across Mumbai. So, the exhibition captures two realities, it puts forth the talent of those who attend special schools and have access to facilities. On the other hand, it showcases issues faced by children with disabilities in regular government schools due to lack of infrastructure and other facilities. Next to the pictures were raised images, braille footnotes, visual aids and descriptive tours to make it a visual experience for the blind too.
Take a look at the pictures of the exhibition in our photo gallery
Present at the event were Partho Bhowmick and Ms. Kreeanne Rabadi, Regional Director, CRY. Partho said, "If you see the images Satvir, there is some moving object. The photo clicked listening to the sound of the moving object."
We would also like to congratulate and thank Ms. Kreeanne Rabadi, Regional Director, CRY for this noble initiative. While emphasizing on the need of a good infrastructure for all children, including the disabled. She was kind enough to clarify all our doubts and reveal everything that readers would want to know about Click Rights.
1. Could you tell us all about Click Rights? How has the photography initiative helped visually impaired children?
Click Rights is a unique volunteer initiative by CRY that is currently active in all the main metros across India. It brings together people who have a passion for photography and a commitment to children, and enables them to become advocates for child rights. This exhibition by visually impaired and sighted volunteers captures the challenges faced by disabled children in accessing education and thus aims to raise awareness on this issue. As part of the initiative, Satvir Jogi, who has low vision helped us understand the challenges faced by him in our government school.
2. What do you have to say about the ‘Blind With Camera’ initiative by Beyond Sight Foundation?
Partho Bhowmick from Beyond Sight Foundation is a CRY fellow who has partnered us in this initiative. He has experience in teaching photography to the visually impaired and showcasing their work through inclusive design exhibitions across India and abroad. Thus, he is able to be a truly effective mentor to volunteers and is a perfect fit for this project. So together, Partho, CRY and mentored volunteers are advocating for equal opportunities for those with disabilities.
3. According to you, what is the biggest problem faced by disabled children in education, and how can technology assist in these problems?
The exhibition captures the technological inputs that can aid in providing equal opportunities for those with disabilities. Inputs like computers with special screens, audio tapes in libraries and Braille books are available in special schools, but these special schools are few in number and thus majority of those with disabilities are not able to access them. Hence the emphasis needs to be on our government schools to be more inclusive and adopt technological inputs, which give the disabilities a chance to educate themselves.
4. Do you have any particular device/software on mind that could help these children?
Some of the issues of access can be solved through Braille books, ramps in schools, trained teachers who are equipped to handle special needs of the children. Making schools disability-friendly is a start towards ensuring that these children can access their Right to Education.
5. This is a good platform to illustrate talents of children who attend special school. Do you think these children can possibly take up photography as a profession?
All volunteers who have been a part of our Click Rights initiative, sighted or blind have been given training in child rights and mentored in photography to showcase their potential and to enable them to become advocates for child rights. Taking up photography as a vocation is their choice to make.
6. What changes have you found in the education system for the disabled over the years?
Special schools that address the needs of those with disabilities have demonstrated that when provided with the required inputs, facilities or technological advances they can compete on any level. But these schools are very few in number. Government schools must adopt the same systems, so every child has access to an education that will enable him/her to grow to their full potential.
7. Is there any message that you want to pass on to our readers?
Disabled people cannot be treated as an afterthought. They should be central to any planning processes around social services, like education. We believe that children with disabilities must be given the opportunity to engage with the world as equals.
Those who want to support CRY, be it by the way of donation or by volunteering, can do so by logging on to www.cry.org.