In a recently concluded art fair in the national capital, one stall that stood out from all other was the one with what appeared as Doodles done by children in first glance. The stall belonged to 'Inside Me', a Delhi-based organization that teaches drawing to blind students.
'Inside Me' says that the blind often live a mundane life dependent on donation and sympathy and they wish to turn it over by giving them 'a sense of being so that they can cope in the world outside these premises'.
Art for Art's Sake
If art is essential for life, then why deprive blind from it. Blind children are taught all subjects in school except drawing. 'Inside Me' does not believe in such limitations.
While blind children are taught about objects around them and how they look, they don't really have a visual concept of what things look like.
'This perspective is also absent from their studies,' they say.
There are 45 million blind people across the globe, with over 15 million in India. And though there are blind schools, nowhere drawing is included as a subject. The children are taught geometry in school without any visual concept of shapes.
"Teaching drawing to these children is not just about how to draw a flower, the Sun, a face or other objects. Drawing helps them to understand the world around them. They become more aware of their environment and surroundings. It helps them to study better.
Inside Me, however, is not just about teaching drawing to blind, but it's aim is to establish a circle of self-sufficiency.
"Once the subject is established in India, the talented children will be appointed as paid volunteers and teachers."
"The drawing will help them to learn and adopt professional skills in a better way. Later we can introduce them different forms of art and skills to earn their livelihood."
The organization has a volunteer program too. They conduct classes for the visually impaired five times a week at Blind Schools, Delhi.
How Do They Draw?
Upon hearing of a drawing school for the visually impaired, the first question that occurs in mind is how do they draw?
A volunteer from the organization explained that these children are taught to draw using a special type of color or material that leave an embossing on the paper for the child to tough and feel and understand what they have drawn.
The children are taught the shape of different objects and how they feel. Objects that recur in their syllabus are incorporated in the drawing lessons to help them understand the subjects they are studying in much better fashion.
"We describe an object or concept using consistent vocabulary and comparisons in terms of size, texture and the objects the students are familiar with. Example, the face is almost the size of your palm, eyes are like almond shape and butterfly's wings feel like tissue paper," they say.
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