The 16th Annual Rally for the Blind was held at Chennai, Tamil Nadu on January 30, 2005. Forty one visually impaired navigators participated in the rally, giving instructions to their drivers from Braille print-outs. The 70 kilometre route covered central Chennai and the city suburbs. Each car had two passengers along with the driver and navigator, so it was a fun day out for many.
The rally was a close affair with three joint winners declared in the expert category (comprising previous winners). The three winning driver-navigator duos were Anitha Srinath-Manjula, Sonia Munglani-Rajarathinam and V N Srinivasan-Vardha. Other categories may not have been quite so closely fought but they were still competitive. Shoba Reddy and Dhandapani were the winners of the regular category with a total of 19 points. Novices K. Senthil Kumar and Murugesan claimed their title with a winning score of 14 points. In the all-ladies category, Kamala Ramaraj emerged the winner with 10 points.
For many like Priya, a student at the National Association of the Blind, Chennai, the rally gave a sense of purpose and power. “I dictated the Braille instructions to my driver,” she claims excitedly. Although she did not win a prize, she feels that the experience was the reward.
The only shortcoming at the rally was the shortage of drivers. Almost half of the visually impaired navigators who turned up were unable to take part. Event organiser Madras Motor Sports Club is determined to ensure that next year more drivers will be available.