Delhi University has faced a lot of flak for the ‘relentless’ implementation of the four-year undergraduate program despite severe opposition. The University, however, is doing its part to make education accessible to all, including the visually impaired students.
DU is doing everything in it’s power to ensure that the visually impaired students do not lag behind or suffer in this newly minted curriculum. To aid the 362 visually challenged students admitted so far, DU will provide them with laptops having a Non Visual Desktop Access (NVDA) software pre installed in them. Also, these students are being given all kinds of fee exemptions, 50 % rebate on mess charges and free metro services so that their education is not hampered.
Another problem that these students were to face was that they have been taught Mathematics and Science only till the 8th grade (and 10th grade, in some cases) and these two are a part of the foundation courses being introduced in the first 4 semesters from this academic year. Responding to this issue, the new curriculum will offer these students a choice between Core Maths and ‘History of Maths’ and Core Science and ‘History of Science’ depending on what they’ll like to pursue.
All these measures were brought to light after an NGO called Shambhavana filed a PIL stating that the FYUP was acting against the interest of the visually impaired and that these challenged students cannot adjust to the new curriculum. In response to this, the high court ordered the formulation of an empowered committee, on whose recommendations all these changes have been made.As per DU counsel Pinky Anand, the University has allotted a sum of Rs. 1.8 crore towards facilitating smooth education for these students and visually impaired teachers in all colleges are being consulted on any suggestions to make the course more amenable to the needs of these students.
Even before this, DU has been playing a proactive role in supporting the universal right to education. Assistance is given to disabled students in every aspect from relaxation in the admission requirements to financial help. The Equal Opportunity Cell established by DU undertakes measures for enable theses students to function as well as possible. Braille texts, audio books, special funding etc. are being provided to them. In addition to this, the University Grants Commission is also supporting selected university departments and colleges to offer specialised education, with financial assistance available under the programme of ‘Integrated Education for Disabled Children’ by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India.