December 3 is World Disability Day. Drop by at an exhibition of photographs captured through the eyes of the differently-abled. Click Rights, an initiative by CRY, showcases the challenges faced by them in fighting for their right to education
For most people, school days are associated with a carefree existence spent hanging out with friends. But for differently-abled children across the city, the picture is far from rosy. Apart from a few specialised institutions that cater to their needs, mainstream schools are sadly lacking in basic amenities for students, be it a ramp for a wheelchair-bound student or a computer for a visually impaired child.
A Mallakhamb training session for visually impaired children
To highlight the plight of these students, Child Relief and You (CRY) has organised Click Rights, a photography exhibition that stresses on the disabled children's Right To Education (RTE). The 2009 Act guaranteed free and compulsory primary education to every child.
A private school where music is taught to children
"While the bill maintains that even a disabled child should have access to mainstream education, the schools are not equipped for students who are visually / hearing impaired or have learning difficulties. There are loopholes which need to be tackled in terms of equal access for such kids, sensitisation of fellow students and teachers to their needs and special changes to the curriculum. There are special schools that address such needs but they are at times beyond their reach in terms of location and affordability," says Priya Zutshi, senior manager at CRY.
An image of a visually impaired student learning new technology
The exhibition includes 37 images shot by Satvir Jogi, a visually impaired student, and Harsh Vyas, a student with a learning disability who has never written with a pen. The duo were paired with two non-disabled amateur photographers as part of a collaborative initiative between CRY and the Beyond Sight Foundation.
Some of the images showcase the terrible state of BMC schools which have narrow staircases and no ramps while others show more empowering images of visually impaired children gaining vocational training in Mallakhamb, singing and learning with the aid of special computer softwares.
A space of one's own
Carrying forward the message of inclusiveness for the disabled in daily life, Click Rights will feature special arrangements at the exhibition for the visually impaired. It includes thermal printing whereby visitors can touch and feel the raised image to get an idea about it.
It will be followed by an audio description of the image which will explain the colour scheme and expressions in the photo. For visitors with low vision, there will be large prints and magnifying glasses at the venue to aid them in the process of viewing the images. It is inspired by the museums in the US and Europe where they provide special facilities for the differently-abled to view the exhibits.
The photos were collected over a year and the amateur photographers visited BMC and specialised schools across the city to shoot the images. Before they embarked on their quest, they were trained and guided by Partho Bhowmick, the founder of Beyond Sight Foundation.
"The challenge was to get the permission to shoot but also at a psychological level. When the disabled and non-disabled students were paired together, there was immediately a sense of competition as the non-disabled person wanted their image to be better. Hence, our effort was to celebrate diversity and ensure it was a collaborative effort where every person put their respective strengths to use," says Bhowmick, who juggles between a corporate job and his foundation.
The inspiration to start the foundation came from reading an article about a visually impaired French photographer. "Through my interactions with him I connected with 50 such photographers / artists / sculptors across the world," he says.
After kickstarting the Blind With Camera movement in 2006 with just one student, he has over the years taught over 150 visually impaired children the art of photography. His process of teaching involves disscussing the level of disability with the student (low vision, born with the disorder, or whether it developed later on in life), giving them basic training and handing them a camera with which they can shoot at a place they are familiar with. At the end of the session, the images that are shot are disscussed in terms of technical finesse.
On: December 3, 10.30 am to 6.30 pm
At: Bajaj Bhavan, Nariman Point.