Some 1.4 million children worldwide are blind, according to the World Health Organization in 2011. The majority of blind children do not receive formal education, leaving many of them incapable of obtaining jobs and caring for themselves. In Russia alone, there are an estimated 280,000 registered disabled people. In a country of more than 140 million people, only two schools provide education and accommodations for blind children. The school for the blind and deaf in Sergiev Posad is one of them.
Snezhana, 10, is a blind orphan who came to the orphanage in 2006 after her mother was killed in a train crash. She is now surrounded by students with similar challenges. Snezhana spends most of her time at the institution, learning to cope through special courses and activities, like singing and playing the violin.
This photo essay by Diana Markosian, documents the dark and lonely life of Snezhana living in the institution. Diana will continue to follow her until she reaches the age of 18. Diana Markosian was born and raised in Moscow until she was 10. She started shooting still images as a graduate student at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. She is currently based in Chechnya, where she is documenting the rebirth of the republic and the ongoing violence in the neighboring republics of Dagestan and Ingushetia. Snezhana was born blind and sent to the institution when was 5-years-old. Reading braille during class. Snezhana, 10, finds her way to class at the school for the blind and deaf in Sergiev Posad, Russia. The institution opened in the Soviet Union and expanded after the collapse in 1991. An average of 200 students attend the school.
Snezhana, a blind orphan, presses her eyes to relieve pain, while sitting on her bed at the school for the blind and deaf.
Attempting to paint her nails, she smears the pink polish across her fingers.
A teacher helps guide students as they reach for bread during supper. There are an average of 200 children at the school for the deaf and blind.
Students doze off as soft pale autumn light filters through the grated classroom window. There are four students per class.
Snezhana, 10, stretches as she reads braille.
Using the hallway wall as a guide, she cautiously makes her way to her adaptive reading class. All Photos and story by: Diana Markosian