Siliguri (West Bengal): In a unique attempt by a non- political and non- sectarian voluntary organisation, sixty visually impaired navigators guided drivers during a 200-km-long car rally in Siliguri over the weekend.

Around 60 visually impaired participants used a route map in Braille to guide drivers to navigate their vehicles on the prescribed route.

Speaking on the objective and format of this unique event, Secretary, Siliguri Round Table India 220, Manish Golyan, said that the rally was held in the time-speed-distance format approved by the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI), a national Motor Sport Federation recognised by the Government of India.

A sighted driver and a visually impaired navigator coordinated to cover the specified route with minimum penalties.

“The basic idea behind holding this rally is to encourage the blind people and to bring them to the forefront of the society.

The idea is that a sighted person is driving the car and the blind man is the navigator who is navigating with the help of a route chart which is given to him in Braille.

The navigator is in total control of the car, the driver who is a sighted person does not know what is happening.

He is just driving. He doesn’t know what speed and which direction he has to go. It is the blind man who is guiding him,” said Golyan.

The visually impaired participants expressed elation over the feel of confidence and power they felt while taking the front seat in the cars.

Other than instilling confidence in the participants, it also sent a message about the importance of Braille language for the visually challenged.

“Braille plays a major role for a blind man because that helps him to read. There are blind people who haven’t learned Braille, so this sends a message about the importance of Braille.

This initiative has let the blind people to be a navigator for a day and feel empowered,” said a blind participant, Raj Kumar Naskar.

This is the second attempt of its kind in the city to encourage the visually challenged join the mainstream.

These inititaives not only send a message to the differently abled community but also reminds the society about the talent these people have.

The initiative, the organisers pointed out, was not only an event but a social attempt to make people believe that they are a part of us.

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Free Press Journal