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Breaking colour line

by Vijay Garg
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The judiciary is taking the first steps towards removing the stigma of people suffering from colour blindness. The Supreme Court this week directed India’s premier creative fine arts body, the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), to give admission to colour blind applicants to courses hitherto banned for them. Film and television works are the product of creative minds and they cannot be stifled because of any limitation that can be overcome by external help, the court said. The court gave its decision ignoring the institute’s reasoning that deficiency can hamper technical work. The ruling is progressive and inclusive. The operative part of the judgment is where it says external assistance can help a colour blind person overcome the deficiency. This is in keeping with the higher judiciary’s attempts to encourage people with deficiencies and disabilities to take up challenging work. Pranjal Patil of Maharashtra is India’s first visually impaired IAS officer. The courts have intervened to provide the help of scribes to help the visually impaired or those suffering from writer’s cramps to sit for competitive examinations. The latest court ruling draws our attention to the issue of colour blindness that has so far adversely affected the career choices of thousands of people who suffer from colour vision deficiency. Colour blindness is not a disability. It is not included in the various legislations related to disability. Those afflicted are disqualified from maritime or flying activities, railways, mining, forest services, policing and advanced scientific operations.
It is only now that the world of fine arts has opened up for them, thanks to the Supreme Court directive to FTII. This is only the first step in what is a long fight. Several fine arts subjects that require precision colour identification — aesthetic, portrait painting, environmental education, composition painting, graphic printmaking, graphic designing, ceramic and moulds, illustrations, poster designing, press advertisements — need to be accessible to the colour blind with the help of external assistance. Colour blindness is the inability to perceive differences between some colours. Largely a genetic disorder, damage to the eyes, nerves or brain can also cause it. India needs a national campaign to undertake testing in schools to detect colour blindness at an early age. Otherwise, children do not realise their problem until they grow up and the deficiency is revealed in a medical examination conducted as a pre-condition for admission to professional and colour-sensitive courses. Many students face the ignominy of being called slow learners when they are actually colour blind. Often, such students avoid activities involving colour, including lab experiments, painting, drawing, or field trips. Parents and teachers need to be sensitised about the issue. All schools should have learning materials available to give colour blind students a level playing field. The affliction cannot be cured but only corrected to an extent, a latest research says. Some companies are testing colour correction glasses or rejuvenating the cone cells in the eyes responsible for colour perception.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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