Blind students accuse DU staff of discrimination

Visually impaired students of Delhi University have alleged discrimination by varsity staff even as the administration claims that it is geared up to roll out new initiatives to empower them.

Last week, the students had shot off a letter to vice chancellor Dinesh Singh and UGC chairperson Ved Prakash, complaining that they have to put up with the staff’s indifference – and sometimes their “ridiculing” behaviour.

However, Anil K Aneja, Officer on Special Duty, Equal Opportunity Cell (EOC), said the allegations are unfounded.

The students claim that despite their repeated requests, EOC has failed to upgrade their laptops with screen reading software such as JAWS.

“The department employees keep listening to our voice without ever bothering to respond,” their letter says.

Students have also raised objection to CCTV cameras installed at the EOC. The facility in North Campus runs short-term courses, organises counselling sessions and maintain e-resource for students with various disabilities.

“The entire EOC is under surveillance of CCTV cameras, barring two rooms, one of which belongs to EOC chief Dr Anjea. Forget opening that door, no one even dares to knock the door,” the letter in Hindi says.

One of the blind students, who refused to be indentified, alleged that they face moral policing from EOC staff. “They monitor us through CCTVs. Whenever they would spot us talking to girls, they come to chide us,” the student said.

But Aneja argued that the CCTV cameras have been installed to prevent “untoward” incidents. “This is no place to make female friends,” he said.

On staff refusing software upgrade, he said: “We have gone to colleges twice, but many didn’t turn up.”

The EOC in-charge said the varsity is in the process of giving a tech boost to students with blind-friendly smartphones and smart canes.

The DU has roped in the services of the National Institute of Visually Handicapped, Dehradun, for providing high-tech canes that will help the blind navigate their way without having to touch or run into obstacles.

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