Students of St Xavier's College want to sensitise those with the ability to see about the difficulties faced by those who are visually challenged
Helping hand: A volunteer demonstrates an ATM that is visually impaired-friendly. The ATM poses a challenge to the blind as most of the instructions are written on the screen. By plugging in a headphone, the user gets the option to use the keypad instead of the side buttons for his transaction and, in case there’s a nosy parker around him, to make the screen blank. The new RBI directive has made it compulsory for all banks to make 1/3rd of their ATMs accessible to the visually impaired. Union Bank of India has already begun the process while other banks will soon follow suit.
Just for kicks: A blindfolded participant tries to kick a football with ball bearings into the goal post. The ball bearings create a noise that makes it easier for the blindfolded participant to know the location of the ball. Football games in the Paralympics too have balls with noise-making devices in them so that the visually challenged players can locate the ball. Text/Asha Mahadevan; Pics/Bipin Kokate
Is it a square? Or a rectangle? The visually impaired draw geometrical figures on a special type of paper with a stylus. The paper rises up where the stylus goes through it, making it possible for them to feel the diagram. It takes time and effort to learn how to draw a parallelogram where all corners meet without being able to see the corners.
No bull’s eye here: A participant tries to understand where he has to throw his dart. A rope on the ground gives the player a sense of the space between the board and the spot from where he has to throw the dart. The blind darts players usually have a string tied to the dart when it is on the board. They then walk backwards to the correct distance so that they have a fairly good idea of where the now untied dart will land on the board.
Spot the difference: It is tough to differentiate by touch alone as the coins are of similar size, have the same smooth edges and the embossing isn’t prominent enough.
Minting confusion: A participant tries to differentiate between various coins of the Indian rupee. While the coins minted before 2007 were distinctive, the later ones do not have etchings that are prominent enough for the visually impaired to easily distinguish among coins of R1, R2, R5 and R10. It is tougher with the notes as R100 and R500 are almost of the same size. The Braille notations on currency notes fade away after a few uses making them even more indistinguishable.
Give me a C: You may know the QWERTY keyboard well enough to be able to type quickly, yet it is not a cakewalk to type the correct three letters without looking at the keyboard in thirty seconds. The blind don’t necessarily use any special keyboards though a screen reader software that reads out the text helps them to know what they are typing.
Think drawing a triangle is easy to do? Try doing it blindfolded. Not so easy now, is it? How do the visually impaired do it then? That’s the question that the Xavier’s Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged (XRCVC) wants the able-bodied to ask at the end of their special workshop, Antarchakshu – The Eye Within.
The two-day event which ends today in St Xavier’s College, had a range of activities for the visually able to try out without using their vision. Participants were blindfolded and guided through the college hall to attempt various every day tasks in order to make them understand the world of the visually challenged.
Dr Sam Taraporevala, director, XRCVC, stated, that the event began as a small part of the college festival Malhar six years ago but has grown exponentially since then. “It is a general sensitisation process. Nowadays, there is no deliberate attempt to exclude but there are many misconceptions and a lack of awareness,” he said.