Of the 37 million people across the globe who are blind, more than 15 million are from India. The most unfortunate part of this is that while most of the cases are curable, there’s an acute shortage of optometrists and eye donations.
However, their inability to see is not an impediment to their education or careers. In an initiative by the College of Fragrance for the Visually Impaired (COVFI), Mumbai, blind students are being taught and trained for a career in the perfume industry.
The organisation has so far, in the last four years, trained and placed approximately 25 students as fragrance evaluators and quality control executives in fragrance firms in Mumbai, Pune and Raigad.
Launched in 2012, the drive wanted to explore new avenues for visually impaired and wanted to groom them for an enhanced career opportunities.
“Our survey of 250 candidates showed that the visually-impaired were more in tune with smells, as they were focused, un-distracted and unbiased,“ says Sheetal Desai, managing director of CPL Aromas, as reported by The Times Of India.
Sheetal then approached Renuka Thergaonkar, head of the cosmetology and perfumery department at V G Vaze College, for the execution of a structured course and it all began from here.
According to Renuka, it was a great idea to have these people trained and enlightened about the concept because they’ll be so much better at this job.
‘When it comes to evaluating fragrances, it is the fully-sighted who are handicapped by biases that come from seeing colour or packaging.“’ said Renuka.
As for the selection, students have to go through an ‘admission test’ to determine their abilities and recognition of basic smells. They are then taught to further evaluate and differentiate between fragrances.