Awareness and Advocacy

Number of people affected by vision loss, 2020

Source: Vision Atlas, IAPB


In view of the importance of awareness about blindness and low vision, we present various efforts at individual, organizational, local, regional, national and international levels to spread awareness about it.

  • Do's and Don'ts When Interacting with a Person who is Blind: How should we behave with a person which is visually impaired?

  • Observance and Symbolism for Awareness: A global approach for awareness is to define observance Days, Weeks, or Months and carry out appropriate activities. Symbolism and Icons are also used for messaging - an important one being Indian Tri-color flag in color-less Braille.

  • Organization and Projects in Awareness Activities: Various organizations like Mitra Jyothi, Sense International India, XRCVC and others carry out focused activities, and so do different projects like The Project Vision, Voice of the Eye, World Sight Day Photo Competition, etc.

  • Understanding the Blinds: Blindfolded: One way to feel the world of the sightless is to experience one blindfolded. Serval initiative in forms of Blind Walk, Walk in the Dark, Walk in the Dark Museum, Dialogue in the Dark, Dining in the Dark have come up.

Do's and Don'ts When Interacting with a Person who is Blind

  • When speaking with a person who is Blind:

  • DO identify yourself, especially when entering a room. Don't say, "Do you know who this is?"

  • DO speak directly to the individual. Do not speak through a companion. Unless they are hard of hearing, they can speak for themselves.

  • DO give specific directions like, "The desk is five feet to your right," as opposed to saying, "The desk is over there."

  • DO give a clear word picture when describing things to an individual with vision loss. Include details such as color, texture, shape and landmarks.

  • DO touch them on the arm or use their name when addressing them. This lets them know you are speaking to them, and not someone else in the room.

  • DON'T shout when you speak. They can't see but often have fine hearing.

  • DON'T be afraid to use words like "blind" or "see." Their eyes may not work, but it is still, "Nice to see you."

  • If you see a Blind person who seems to be in need of assistance:

  • DO introduce yourself and ask the person if he needs assistance.

  • DO provide assistance if it is requested.

  • DO respect the wishes of the person who is blind.

  • DON'T insist upon trying to help if your offer of assistance is declined.

  • If a Blind person asks you for directions:

  • DO use words such as "straight ahead," "turn left," "on your right."

  • DON'T point and say, "Go that way," or, "It's over there."

  • If you are asked to guide a Blind person:

  • DO allow the person you are guiding to hold your arm and follow as you walk.

  • DO move your guiding arm behind your back when approaching a narrow space so the person you are guiding can step behind you and follow single-file.

  • DO hesitate briefly at a curb or at the beginning of a flight of stairs.

  • DO tell the person you are guiding whether the steps go up or down.

  • DO allow the person you are guiding to find the handrail and locate the edge of the first step before proceeding.

  • DON'T grab the person you are guiding by the hand, arm, or shoulder and try to steer him.

  • DON'T grab the person's cane or the handle of a dog guide's harness.

  • DO refer to Sighted Guide Techniques for more information.

  • General guidelines:

  • DON'T pet, feed, or distract a guide dog. They are not pets; they are working companions on whom a Blind person depends.

  • DO treat Blind people as individuals. People with visual disabilities come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses, just like everyone else.


Observance and Symbolism for Awareness

Observance Date, Day, Week, Month, or Year

All India Flag Day for the Blind: [India] Every 14th September, Finance Raising Committee (FRC) of NAB India organizes the All India Flag Day for the Blind. To mark the occasion, it calls on important personalities in Mumbai – the Governor, the Mayor, the chiefs of Indian Army and Navy bases in the city, heads of public and private sector establishments etc. It becomes a day of celebration and expression of talent and joy. Performances become a way to reach to people’s heart and start a new way of looking at world

Audiobook Month: June.

Cataract Awareness Month: June. Cataract is the world’s leading cause of blindness, accounting for approximately 42% of all cases of blindness in all nations.

Children’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month: August.

Deafblind Awareness Week: [USA] Established in 1984, it is observed in the last week in June, in honor of Helen Keller's birthday on June 27th.

Glaucoma Awareness Month: January.

Helen Keller Day: [USA] Commemorated on 27th June, the birthday of Hellen Keller. It celebrates the life and achievements of Helen Keller, a woman who overcame blindness and deafness and became infamous in the process.

International Guide Dog Day: Last Wednesday in April. References to guide dogs date back to at least the 16th century, so for the hundreds of years of service that these faithful companions have provided, this day is the thanks giving.

International Year of Light: 2015. IYL 2015 was a United Nations observance that aimed to raise awareness of the achievements of light science and its applications, and its importance to humankind, specifically the visually impaired.

Low Vision Awareness Month: February

National Guide Dog Month: September. The purpose of this month long celebration is to raise awareness, support and appreciation for guide dog schools.

WBD: World Braille Day is an international day on 4th January and celebrates awareness of the importance of braille as a means of communication in the full realization of the human rights for blind and visually impaired people. It marks the birthday of Louis Braille on 1809.

In India it is also called Louis Braille Day when a blind person reads news on Doordarshan and All India Radio.

World Glaucoma Day: 12th March. It is observed to raise awareness about glaucoma and to alert everyone to have regular eye (and optic nerve) check-ups to detect glaucoma as early as possible. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness, but with early treatment, the damage may get limited and sight may be saved.

WSD: World Sight Day is an annual day of awareness held on the second Thursday of October, to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment, raise public awareness of blindness & vision impairment, influence Governments/Ministers of Health to participate in and designate funds for national blindness prevention programmes and educate target audiences about blindness prevention. Most often it has a theme to focus activities on:

  • 2013 Universal Eye Health

  • 2014 No more Avoidable Blindness

  • 2015 Eye care for all

  • 2016 Stronger Together

  • 2017 Make Vision Count

  • 2018 Eye Care Everywhere

  • 2019 Vision First

  • 2020 Hope In Sight

World White Cane Safety Day: 15th October. The date is set aside to celebrate the achievements of people who are blind or visually impaired and the important symbol of blindness and tool of independence, the white cane.


Symbolism and Icons

Flag without Colors

The Indian Tricolor ranks amongst one of the most beautiful flags in the world. But we bet that the Indian citizens would feel the same admiration towards it even though there would be no colors to fill its spirit. Why are we saying this? Because MP Birla Cement, alongside with the creative team at Ogilvy Kolkata, managed to recreate it without using any colors. They poured cement in a specially-designed container and created a full concrete flag. So how can a cement flag be as beautiful as the traditional one, you might ask? Simple: it’s been crafted to be admired especially by people with no or low vision.

Experiencing the national flag is an emotion that every proud citizen wants to feel. Kids with visually impairment definitely feel the same, so there must be a way for them to ‘see’ the flag. And there is. Meet the “Flag Without Colors,” a flag entirely made out of cement, that brings the meaning and joy of its colors and symbols through nothing else than Braille writing system.

This one-of-a-kind Braille flag will be hoisted in various blind schools across the country, inviting the students to actually be part of the 70th Anniversary of the Indian Republic. Check the videos on the left for the reactions of the kids.

Braille Flag

The Braille flag is a fully tactile graphic accompanied with a user key that aides the blind in denoting the orientation, and colors of the American flag's stripes, stars and blue field. It also contains the Pledge of Allegiance in raised print and grades one and two Braille. It was created by Randolph Cabral, president of Kansas Braille Transcription Institute, in Wichita, Kansas, to honor his dad a WWII veteran that lost his sight.

The Braille flag was endorsed by the Blinded Veterans Association during its 61st Annual Convention in Buffalo, New York, in 2006.

Organization and Projects in Awareness Activities

DAISY Forum of India
486 Double Storey, New Rajinder Nagar, New Delhi 110 060, India
1800 300 20469 (Toll free)

DAISY Forum of India

DAISY Forum of India

DAISY Forum of India is a consortium of Not for Profit organizations from India who are involved in production and distribution of books and reading material in accessible formats for persons who cannot read normal print due to visual, cognitive or physical disabilities. DAISY Forum of India is an associate member of DAISY Consortium.

The DAISY forum of India envisions a world where people with print disabilities have equal access to information and knowledge without delay or additional expense in their own language.

The mission of DAISY Forum of India is to eradicate the Book famine for persons with print disabilities. According to surveys conducted world-wide, less than 1% of the published information is available in alternate and accessible formats for use by persons with print disabilities.

DAISY Awareness

The DAISY Forum of India through its member organizations has been successfully increasing awareness about DAISY at various levels in different parts of the country.

As a result, Education Boards of Govt. of Maharashtra, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and other states have been made aware of DAISY, and some of the state Governments have agreed to publish their school textbooks in DAISY format. Other education boards such as NIOS and RCI have also agreed to publish their course material in DAISY format.

This is a major step, and an ongoing effort, pioneered by the Policy Intervention Committee under the leadership of Dr. Sam Taraporewala. The result of the increased awareness at the end user level is evident from the increased demand of DAISY player tools from the end users, which is an effort by the Awareness Committee led by Mr. Praful Vyas.

Mitra Jyothi

Mitra Jyothi

Mitra Jyothi is aimed at empowering the visually impaired by supporting their educ