It was a car rally like no other, as visually impaired participants turned navigators and guided drivers with normal vision through rough terrain spanning 47 kilometres. The idea was to send out a message that disability is no bar to taking up any pursuit and breaking new grounds.
While the rally sought to raise general awareness on the importance of adhering to traffic rules, it also presented visually impaired people with an opportunity to overcome their disabilities and showcase their road navigating skills.
Sanjay Kaushik, president, Uthaan, an NGO, flagged off the rally from Manger police post on Gurgaon-Faridabad road at 10.30am on Saturday. The rally covered a range of terrain, from state highways to dirt tracks in villages. The off-track driving presented the participants with an opportunity to experience and explore the Aravallis and other challenging terrains.
The rally snaked its way through Manger, Silaghiri, Balabhgarg, Sohna Road, Sirohi, Lalkhedi, Mandawar, DamDama, Harchandpur, Khedi, Sejawas, Bhondsi, Badshahpur, Rajiv Chowk and National Highway-8 before culminating in Sector 15.
The rally featured participants from Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, and Chandigarh. The drivers weren’t aware of the 47-km route and were solely reliant on their navigators for guidance with the help of the route map in Braille.
“The navigators used their skills to direct drivers and helped them overcome the rough terrain. Though fraught with challenges and risks, each and every participant enjoyed the experience,” Kaushik said.
As many as 35 cars took part in the rally. The coordination, bonding and team work between the drivers and navigators stood out as the rally snaked along.
“Since the route map was in Braille, I could understand and interpret it without much trouble. Also, the rally gave me an opportunity to get acquainted with the driver. We built a nice rapport,” Yogesh Taneja, a visually-impaired participant, employed with the Union Bank of India, said.
Ajit Kumar, another visually impaired navigator, said, “I picked up a lot of short forms from the route map. I chatted up the driver and learnt a lot about routes from her as well. I could identify five speed breakers along the way.”