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This artist has created unique fragrant colors for blind students

Humans have five senses that provide inputs to the brain about our surroundings. For people with visual impairments, the sense of smell is very crucial as it helps them become aware of their environment. The smell of fresh food or a bouquet of flowers, a heap of garbage on the roadside, all these are part of our life. The olfactory receptors that are located in the nostrils, perceive, feel and differentiate various odours.

Suresh Nair decided to make use of these olfactory receptors to introduce art into the lives of blind people. Nair, who is a contractor with the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) has always loved art and is a self-taught artist himself.

He and his Tasmania-based creative partner Samina Sachak have special painting colors that can be used by visually impaired people to paint and create art.

The innovative idea has given birth to Paint Aroma, a set of 10 acrylic paints. Each color in the box contains a natural essence matching its shade.

White gives off the fragrance of vanilla, yellow, the scent of citrusy lemon, yellow ochre smells like lemongrass, burnt sienna gives off the scent of cinnamon, crimson smells like strawberry, while Prussian Blue has the fragrance of lily. Isn't that a fragrant combination of beautiful colors?

Nair got inspired to create the inclusive art supply when he saw some blind students enjoy 3D art that he had created. He observed that the blind students want to enjoy art and feel it through touch.

Once he created the fragrant colors, Nair set out to see their impact and effect. He made the colors available for art classes across various schools for blind kids in Delhi and Mumbai. He found that for blind student the art syllabus in schools was mostly limited to sculpting and not painting. The students were only being taught about making sculptures.

Nair bought canvas, brushes and colors with his own money, while also trying to convince the school management to let the students use them. He himself gave the classes to the blind students and got positive results soon. The students learned to use the paint and make art.

Penav Mota a blind student thinks the aroma paint is a great idea. "The concept of making paints accessible for blind people is really nice." says Mota

The texture of the paint is non-dripping and this makes it easier for them to use. It is still challenging for students to create designs and fill them out with colors accurately but they seem to enjoy the experience a lot. They create abstract art and once guided, the paintings come out beautifully made, full of colors and imaginations.

Nair is happy that blind students are able to learn and experience something new. He hopes to promote the artwork created by the students and hopes to auction the paintings made by them.

Pallavi Kadam, Executive Director, National Association for the Blind (NAB) very rightly expresses the need for accessible products for people with visual impairments.

"Many of us have the gift of vision and not often do we realize the everyday struggles of the visually impaired especially when everything around is designed for people with vision." says Kadam

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