HindustanTimes Mon,22 Dec 2014

Seeing through a blindfold, JNU raises awareness on visually challenged

Mallica Joshi, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, October 04, 2012
First Published: 23:16 IST(4/10/2012) | Last Updated: 23:18 IST(4/10/2012)

A volunteer hands you a blindfold and your 45 minutes of darkness begin.


At Antarchakshu, a workshop that aims to raise awareness about disability held at Jawaharlal Nehru University, you can try to understand how a visually challenged person leads his/her life, if only for 45 minutes.

After the blindfold comes on, you are handed a white cane and asked to follow a path set by a rope followed by an obstacle path that includes bumps on the path, a step and an unstable platform.

"Our aim is to show you how small things that a person with vision can easily dodge are big obstacles for a person who cannot see. A small ditch in the road can result in a visually challenged person having a major accident," said a volunteer who ensures that the blindfolded participants do not injure themselves.

 The workshop sets certain tasks for a participant. Using a calculator, you are supposed to make a simple calculation, which you are scored on.

In another task, you are supposed to type out your name, without looking at the keyboard and acquainting yourself beforehand.

"I am very comfortable using the keyboard and type without looking so it came to me as a shock that I couldn't even write my name correctly. Simple tasks such as pointing out cities on a map become so much more challenging. I was off by just a couple of centimeters and I lost marks because of that. The experience just gave me a new perspective on how much we take things for granted," said Himani Mahesh a student at the university.

But the most difficult task, according to most of the 100 people who attended the workshop, was choosing coins from a cup and give the volunteer eight rupees. One cup had the older coins and one had the new ones.

"I had never thought that it would be so difficult to differentiate between a new five rupee coin and a new one rupee coin. The older ones were much better. I had read about the problems that blind people faced because of these coins but experiencing it made the issue clearer," said Chetna Singh, who works in an NGO.

The workshop, which is open to all between 10 am and 5.30 pm, is on till Saturday.

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