World Sight Day 2016

Today marks the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness’ (IAPB) fourth World Sight Day, an annual day of awareness held on the second Thursday of October to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment.

Over the years, Oxo Tower Wharf has welcomed exhibitors wishing to demonstrate the effects that being blind can have on a person’s life.


Last year, gallery@oxo welcomed Sightsavers, an international organisation that works in more than 30 countries to eliminate avoidable blindness and supports people with visual impairments to live independently. Their free photographic exhibition called Framing Perceptions featured photos by Guardian photographer, Graeme Robertson, who has visited Sightsavers projects in Uganda and North India.

SEPT- 2014 -New Delhi -INDIA: Photographer Graeme Robertson traveled to India to photograph one of Sightsavers programs as part of his upcoming show in London. These pictures are from New Delhi as he travels though the city on route to his destination. 3rd December 2014 is International Day of Persons with Disabilities and one year on from the launch of the Put Us in the Picture campaign. Sightsavers wants to use this day to celebrate the success achieved to date, thank supporters and inspire, engage and motivate people to continue to put pressure on the government.  To date the main focus has been on the political process and audiences, but we now need to build on the public campaign, and the 13,000 supporters who have already signed up, to show decision makers that this is an issue people care about. By increasing public support, we can put pressure on politicians to ensure they carry out their promises. Coverage will provide an opportunity for me to connect with a wider public audience of politically aware readers in order to raise awareness of the issues and continue to build momentum and public support for the campaign. The content gathered on the trip and the accompanying TV crew (along with the exhibition on the 3rd of DEC in East london) will give people with disabilities an opportunity to tell their stories.  It will bring their stories to life through words, images and audio, so the public can experience what it’s like for people with disabilities living in developing countries and feel moved and inspired to support the cause.  Using the power of individual personal stories we will demonstrate the barriers people with disabilities in developing countries face and the impact this is having on their lives and those around them. We will also show the alternative side of the story - how it doesn’t have to be this way – that there is huge potential to transform their lives and those of their families and wider community given the right interventions.  P

Manju Devi Meghwal, by Graeme Roberston

The exhibition aimed to highlight the impact of exclusion and the difference empowerment can make. It told stories of people with disabilities whose lives have been transformed through access to support and training – people like Manju and Bhanvari, two amazing women who run self-help groups in their community for others with disabilities.

Dallu, a 28-year old who rarely ventured out after losing her sight, visited the exhibition: “On arrival I was given a headset with audio description which not only gave the information about each person photographed but also gave me all the visual details of what each picture contained, including what each person was wearing. No details were missed, and I felt at no disadvantage because of my visual impairment. I was delighted to receive a copy of the guide too and particularly pleased that it included Braille.”


Framing Perceptions preview at Coin Street neighbourhood centre

And that was not the first time Sightsavers had chosen to exhibit their work at Oxo Tower Wharf. They held their Junior Painter of the Year Awards and their i-click photography competition at Bargehouse in both 2007 and 2008 respectively.

In 2007, the theme was ‘My View – A Child’s Perspective’ and the idea was to offer a glimpse into the way children see the world, with a collection of inspirational and exciting paintings by UK Primary school children, depicting the world from their own perspective. The national and regional winners of Sightsavers International’s annual Junior Painter of the Year Awards were showcased to raise awareness of World Sight Day and also to encourage and celebrate the use of paint in primary schools.


Jamal Oreagba, National Winner, 4-7 category

And two years, later, Sightsavers returned for their i-click photography awards, with a ‘Body Language’ theme. Three teens were chosen as national winners and their photos, selected from hundreds of entries submitted by young photographers from across the UK, were displayed in a special exhibition alongside photos by Harry Potter star Katie Leung and X-Factor pop sensation Same Difference.

Emily Tudor, aged 13 from Buckinghamshire, won first prize in the 11-14 category, Stacy Leigh Stewart, aged 16 from Scotland won first prize in the 15-16 category and Lolita Cameron, aged 17 won first prize in the 17-18 category.


Emily Tudor’s winning entry

Dialogue Beyond Sight

Most recently in July, we welcomed MaMoMi, a social enterprise wishing to enhance the experiences and expand the possibilities available to the visually impaired. Their exhibition, Dialogue Beyond Sight, featured the works of 16 visually impaired artists and performers, which included paintings, illustrations and recitals.


Dialogue Beyond Sight, July 2016

IAPB Photo Competition

IAPB challenges amateur and professional photographers around the world to join in highlighting the impact of eye health in people’s lives, by taking part in an International Photography Competition with theme, ‘#StrongerTogether’.  Send them your pictures – professional shoots, amateur compositions, instagrams or flickr – with the hashtag, #StrongerTogether.



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