Physically challenged to protest in DU today

Students want books, tablets that the blind can access

To ensure equality in education for persons with disabilities, a teachers’ forum working on equal rights for the disabled in Delhi University have called for a protest on Tuesday.

The demands made by the forum, Sambhavana, for have been raised before with no ‘concrete action taken’.

According to a member, in many colleges and university departments, the enabling units provided by University Grants Commission for such students under the 11th plan, were either not constituted or mostly remained non functional.

“This has been a serious hurdle in the implementation of provisions intended to redress grievances of disabled employees and students, thereby constraining their participation in the university, ” said the member.

The students and faculty members said disabled teachers and students are kept in dark about the existence of such units. “Moreover, enabling units at the departmental-level were not formed at all,” added the member.

Their demands included books and other study material in accessible formats, assistive technology, technical support during lectures and disabled-friendly infrastructure in colleges, hostels and on university campus. They also want creation of a pool of sign language interpreters and inclusion of disabled students in extra curricular activities.

The students said the proposal of ministry of human resource development to distribute Aakash tablets to them remains inaccessible for the  visually challenged category. “Such machines should be made accessible and compatible with the screen readers before starting such a drive,” said a member.

“We earnestly feel that the university should think of issuing netbooks to these students as it may be a composite aid to perform many educational tasks,” the member adds.

The DU and colleges’ websites are not fully accessible through screen reading software as they do not meet the standards approved by National Informatics Centre and ministry of social justice and empowerment making it difficult for vision impaired users to use them independently.

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