GEO

Ablepsia is a Greek word meaning loss of sight in one or both eyes.

Over a billion people in the world live with some sort of vision impairment, and 36 million are blind.

What can hands, soles of your feet, and skin remember?

There are no statistics on people with ablepsia in Georgia. The school #202 is the only place where children with visual impairments and blindness study with special program. The school is in Tbilisi. So, those living away from the capital are either forced to move to Tbilisi and enroll their children in the special school, or children have to stay in the boarding school until they graduate. They go back home for holidays.

Now the boarding school accommodates 16 children, though there is enough room for twice as many. It is hardly ever full. 46 pupils study there now. Acting School Principal Tamar Khvedelidze says that the school is understaffed - they need more psychologists, occupational therapists, and special education teachers. There is also constant dearth of clay, paper, and other materials for occupational therapy activities. The students are still waiting for a gym, chemistry and physics labs, learning materials, and excursions.

The guard is the guardian of the route, helping you find your way in unknown spaces.

Whom do you trust with your way?

To move safely in a space, we must hear one another and hear things, too. Not to bump into something with your head, it is recommended to stretch your hand slightly away from your forehead. This is how you protect yourself from obstacles. If you drop something, do not bend your head. If you need to pick up something, you lean forward and squat, and grope around to find, what you've lost.

You can also walk pressing against the wall. You must avoid touching the wall with the palm of your hand or fingertips. The palm of your hand is soft and fragile. Slide the back of your hand against the wall, bending your fingers all the while so as to protect your fingertips from possible obstacles ahead.

That is why bumps of different heights are installed on the sidewalk, to help people with visual impairments and the blind know where the road ends, where crossings, bus stops, and subway stations are located. Only a few areas in the city feature such vertical obstacles, and a few more by subway stations.

You will rarely find an acoustic traffic lights. There was one near the public school #202, but it locals requested to take it down, because the noise was disturbing them at nights. Now, there is no acoustic traffic light at the nearest crossing by the school.

The guides accompany people with visual impairments and the blind. In case of emergency, they make house calls.

White isn't the brightest color. Yellow is the brightest.

To let us all make our way through the city safely, yellow road signs have to guide us.

You put your hand on your guide’s shoulder

and stand one step behind and half a step away from the guide’s body. The guide will signal and raise the shoulder when approaching stairs. By the final stair, the guide will lower the shoulder. When the landscape is changing the guide will signal and halt.

And then you go.

Photo Diaries

of the students from №202 School for Blind and Visually Impaired Children
Ani Sikhashvili
17 years
Liova Luzhanskiy
18 years
Mariam Kavelashvili
16 years
Nika Tsertsvadze
17 years
Salome Ketsbaia
18 years
Authors:
Lasha (Fox) Tsertsvadze, Nino Lomadze
Video:
Lasha (Fox) Tsertsvadze
Web-development:
David Makaridze
Special thanks: to the whole staff of the N. 202 Public School for Pupils with Blindness and Visual Impairments; Many thanks to Tako Bakradze and Leila Birkadze. Special thanks to Zura Chanturia, Dato Bibileishvili, Club "Mtkvarze", Thoma Sukhashvili, Keso Kobidze, Giorgi Macharashvili, Sopho Chkheidze, Mako Abesadze, Giorgi Mamagulashvili.
The project was implemented with the support of Internews Georgia and Internews, in the framework of the project "Strengthening Independent Media in Europe and Eurasia".