Disability News India (DNI)
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Disability News India – July Issue
- 'Ratify UN charter on disabled people'
- News from the world of NGOs
- High court asks DU to reserve seats for disabled people
- Model school denies admission to disabled student, protest held
- Schools cold to disabled kids
- New career options for visually Impaired
- Exploring the 'specially–abled'
- PDA for visually impaired runs Windows CE
- Kalam note helps solve note problem– Boon for visually impaired
- Disabled candidate seeks details from IIM (B)
- Mangalore: Exclusive Park for Visually–Impaired at Pilikula
- 'Chandrayaan' aims to inspire visually–impaired
- Appeal to Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi by disability organisation
- Integrated mobility system for disabled people in railway stations
- PANJAB UNIVERSITY to have ramps for disabled students
- Disabled students prefer hostels
- Disabled students in distress
- Delhi University to set up resource centre for disabled people
- Infotech opens up a silent world
- Father says college denied hostel facility to visually–impaired daughter,principal refutes
- HC issues notice to railways
- Provide opportunities to disabled: trust
- Helpline launched for hearing impaired
- DU unable to cater to special students
- Colleges challenged to meet new standards
- Despite funds, disabled children poor
- 'The course has empowered us to face challenges of life'
- Railways plan revamp of facilities
NEW DELHI, 28 Jul 2007: The government should ratify at the earliest, articles of the United Nations Convention relating to the rights of those with disabilities as these were enforceable under the Constitution, former chief justice of India Justice J S Verma said on Friday.
"Even if the ratification is delayed all its (UN's) articles can be enforced under the Indian constitution. The constitution allows for international laws to be used for filling in the gaps and expanding the scope and content of constitutional guarantees," Justice Verma said at a national meet on the UN convention and its implication for people with disabilities in India.
Verma explained he had used the UN convention on women's rights, CEDAW, and articles of Constitution to write the Visakha judgment that gave shape to the law against sexual harassment at the workplace.
Deputy director–general of the ministry of social justice and empowerment Ashish Kumar, however, clarified that no time limit could be set for such ratification although the process for identifying areas where legal intervention would be needed was on.
Convenor of the Disability Rights Group Javed Abidi, however, argued that though the Constitution and its articles were present to enforce the rights of the disabled, the latter were discriminated against till the Disability Rights Act was passed in 1995.
Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.comBack to Top
A ground–level meet
Foreign ministers from India, South Africa and Brazil recently met for the India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) summit.
Later this year, mayors, local government ministers and other representatives of local governments of the three countries will meet in Delhi at the Institute of Social Sciences (ISS), Delhi. ISS founder director, George Mathew said that there would be 10 representatives each from Brazil and South Africa and the host could have more participants.
The ministers are excited at the prospect of having an international summit of their own, says Mathew. The meeting is likely to take place by the year–end.
Malls for disabled people
The NGO Mother's Pride has tied up with SM Stores to help display and sell products made by mentally and physically disabled children.
The store does not charge a single penny for lending the space within their malls.
The children are trained by Mother's Pride which is also helping other NGOs with its capacity building programme. Actor Anupam Kher and singer Jagjit Singh are ambassadors for the project.
Projects for heritage United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) India has come out with a new initiative called 'Building Partnerships to support UNESCO World Heritage'.
The aim of the programme launched on July 25 is to provide support to the biodiversity conservation programme within four world heritage sites in India. These are Kaziranga and Manas in Assam, Keoladeo in Rajasthan and Nanda Devi in Uttaranchal.
The programme will be implemented in collaboration and partnership with the government of India and with support from United Nations Foundation, Ford Foundation and Sehgal Foundation.
The purpose is to develop effectively managed clusters of existing and potential world heritage sites representing critical ecosystems and habitats of India. Management of these sites would combine law enforcement, community support and participation, engagement with civil society and private sector, education, communication and advocacy.
Education of choice
The NGO Centre for Civil Society launched its school voucher project in Delhi and gave away fee vouchers to 408 students to enable them to opt for schools of their choice.
The NGO received 1,20,000 applications from 68 wards in the metro. The NGO calls it a journey from right to education to right to education of choice.
Source: www.business–standard.com/economy/storypage.phpBack to Top
New Delhi, 24 July: In an effort to provide equal status to the physically disabled candidates in educational institutions, the Delhi High Court has directed Delhi University (DU) to reserve seats for disabled students in Health Care Administration course under the management studies program.
The verdict was given by Justice B D Ahmed who disposed the petition filed by Poonam, who was denied admission for the course under the disability category.
The varsity denied her admission on the grounds that her application form did not mention anything under the handicapped category.
The verdict says that: "In future, the University shall reserve at least one seat and carry out the mandate prescribed under the DU guidelines."
The Court, however, did not allow Poonam to secure admission in the three–year course for the academic session 2007–2010, saying that she did not approach the court 'on time'.
Source: http://www.indiaedunews.net/DelhiBack to Top
Chandigarh, July 23: A protest was held at Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 16, Chandigarh, after a physically disabled student was denied admission to Class XI in to the Arts stream by the school authorities.
According to sources in the UT Education Department, this student was trying to get admission to the school since long but the department had directed him to other model schools stating that classes in the Arts stream are held on first floor and that the school is not ready to change the entire system for just one student.
It was the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) who carried out the protest today. Raising slogans against the UT Education Department, they demanded that the ramps should be reworked and entries for the washroom should be renovated so that a wheelchair may fit. They also demanded lifts in schools for disabled students.
Talking to Newsline, Sham Lal Kanoujia, General Secretary, NCP, said, "It is not just about one single student, rather it's about all disabled students. If the education department has announced provisions for including disabled students into mainstream education, they should provide them with the required facilities."
DPI (S) S K Setia, confirming the student had been denied admission, said, "We are looking at the possibilities for accommodating him. He is asking for a combination of subjects, which include Sociology, Geography and History. In the Sector 16 model school, there are no students who want the combination. So we had directed him to model schools in Sector 33 and 35. However, at these two also there are hardly any students opting for this combination. But I will take up the issue and make sure that he gets admission in the Sector 16 model school."
A city–based Lawyer, Ravinder Singh, said, "According to law, no school can deny admission to any physically disabled student."
Source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.phpBack to Top
CHANDIGARH: Official apathy continues to disabled students. Abhimanyu is one such student of humanities in class XI at Government
Model Senior Secondary School in Sector 16. However, he cannot go to school, thanks to unfriendly environment in school and uncompromising authorities.
Abhimanyu's problem is the lack of a ramp and toilet for disabled people in the school premises. The toilet door in the school is two–foot wide, while Abhimanyu's wheelchair is three feet. School authorities have refused to shift Abhimanyu's classroom to the first floor for his convenience. In fact, there was a public protest at the school. Parents of students with special needs even have a harrowing time getting their wards admitted to school.
Most city schools seem to care less about the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act of 1995, which states that removal of architectural barriers and restructuring of curriculum and modifications in the examination system shall be ensured for the benefit of children with disabilities.
SK Setia, DPI (schools) said, "There are ramps in government schools but they are not accessible to every block of the school. However, we have budgeted for ramps in a few schools and but constructing them takes time. Moreover, some buildings have been designed in such a way that carving out ramps is tough. However, we will see to it that situation for the disabled improves."
Ironically, to get a no–objection certificate, schools show details of facilities to be provided for the disabled on blueprints but the final structure is far from that proposed. Most schools simply reject physically–challenged students at the time of admissions or ask for extra fees.
There are schools like Guru Hari Krishan Model School in Sector 38, Ryan International School and Saupins School who accommodate students with special needs but the scene continues to remain bleak. But as long as the education department does not get down to doing something really concrete, physically–challenged students will continue to remain children of a lesser God.
Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/ChandigarhBack to Top
NEW DELHI: With beauty and personal care sector coming up as one of the fastest–growing in India, it is also offering a chance for the visually impaired to break the traditional mould and look for new career opportunities.
Some 50 visually impaired people have undergone training in therapeutic massage since the Blind Relief Association, New Delhi, started a course in collaboration with the Vandana Luthra Curls and Curves (VLCC) Institute three years ago.
"It is a vocational course mainly aimed at imparting scientific training to the blind in massaging and body therapy techniques to help them become self–reliant," says A David, the project manager of the Association who designed the course, open for both men and women who passed eighth standard with science as one of the subjects.
Covering relaxation and therapeutic massage, pressure point massage and aromatherapy, the three–month course is recognised by the VLCC, which imparts training to the instructors and awards certificate to the students.
Four batches have passed out since the course was started in 2004, and while some 15 visually impaired students are working independently, several have opened their own massage parlours, providing jobs to others, says Rampal Singh, who is working as an instructor. The Association is also providing self–employment and placement assistance.
"We are imparting the training free of cost to equip the visually challenged to make a career for themselves," Yogesh Sethi, the CEO of VLCC Health Care Ltd, says.
Source: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/Back to Top
NEW DELHI: A unique film competition titled '60 Seconds to Fame' is being organised by the Chennai–based Ability Foundation on the theme of 'Celebrating Diversity', focusing primarily on inclusion of people with disabilities in every aspect of life.
The winner will take home a prize of Rs.2.25 lakh and also get an opportunity to screen his film at the India international disability film festival, 'Ability Fest 2007', to be organised in Chennai by the Foundation from October 5 to 8.
All one needs is to be an Indian citizen and have a creative, sensitive mind with an understanding and empathy for the human diversity, which prevails all around us. The last date for submission is August 31.
Winners will be selected by a panel of eminent jurors.
A national non–government organisation with headquarters in Chennai, Ability Foundation organises Ability Fest every alternate year. The first edition of the festival, held in July 2005, also included the 60 Seconds to Fame section on the theme of inclusion of disabled persons.
Stalwarts from the film industry like Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Jaya Bachchan, Mani Ratnam, Nandita Das and Rajiv Menon were members of the jury. The winners received cash prizes and their films were also screened during the festival.
As an NGO, the Foundation works for the empowerment, inclusion, employment, equitable opportunities and human rights aspects of persons with disabilities through activities that involve law and policy, advocacy, publishing, information, media and placement services.
Source: www.hindu.com/2007/07/21/stories/2007072151150200.htmBack to Top
GW Micro has released what it describes as one of the "smallest, lightest, and most fashionable" note–takers available for the visually impaired. Voice Sense runs Windows CE 5.0 and features a "Perkins style" Braille keyboard for inputting information, and uses synthesized voice for output.
Voice Sense is powered by a 540 MHz PXA 270 and is equipped with 192 MB of RAM and a gigabyte of flash memory. Additional storage is available via both CompactFlash and SD card slots. Audio output is provided via built–in stereo speakers as well as a headphone jack. Audio input makes use of either the unit's built–in condenser mic or via a microphone jack.
A USB 2.0 port supports connection to devices such as the company's SyncBraille portable Braille display. Built–in wireless networking includes both 802.11b/g WiFi and Bluetooth 1.1. An FM receiver is also included. The company says it plans to incorporate GPS in the near future.
According to GW Micro, Voice Sense includes the following software applications:
Calender and schedule manager
Daisy talking book player
Context sensitive help
Also known as a Perkins Brailler, the Perkins–style keyboard is described as a "braille typewriter" with six keys representing the six dots of the Braille code. Text is entered by simultaneously pressing combinations of the six keys. Three additional keys represent space, line space, and backspace.
The original Perkins Brailler was developed in 1951 at the Perkins School for the Blind and is still being manufactured by Howe Press. It is a complex mechanical device conceptually similar to a manual typewriter. In recent years the Perkins keyboard layout has been adapted to PCs and other electronic devices.
Voice Sense availability
Voice Sense is shipping now in North America, priced at $1,895, according to GW Micro.
Source: www.windowsfordevices.com/newsBack to Top
Bhubaneswar: Before President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam signs off from his post, he leaves a ray of hope for the visually–impaired persons.
A communique from Reserve Bank of India has come as a reply to the letter written by the Orissa Association of Blind to the President, wherein they had pressed for modified currency notes to enable the visually–impaired to identify them. "We are so glad to receive an immediate response from the President's side. These days we are busy jotting down suggestions for the new notes if they come. Braille dots, raised symbols, cutting corners, producing notes of different sizes, or with perforations are some suggestions we have come up with," said an enthusiastic Sanyas Behera, the office secretary of the association.
There are more than 5 lakh visually–impaired persons in Orissa and the problem of distinguishing currency notes has been noticed widely. The current practice of identifying a currency note is by measuring its sizes with fingers.
"But that is of little help, as notes with denominations of Rs 100, Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 are more or less the same. The smaller denomination notes such as Rs 5, Rs 10 and Rs 20 vary in size and therefore can be differentiated," Behera added.
In places like Ahmedabad they have a device known as the "note taker" that looks similar to a scale and is used to measure the length of the note. But it's yet to be available in Orissa. "Durability of Braille marks on notes is limited. Coins with same denominations and stickers on notes maybe introduced to solve this problem," said Sarojini Sahoo, a teacher of special education.
Citing an instance, Prabeen Khetravasa, a visually–impaired youth explained how he was cheated last week. "My neighbour sent me to a grocery store with a Rs 500 note. The shopkeeper said the note I was carrying was Rs 100 and not Rs 50," he said.
"I was confused as to who was telling the truth ? my neighbour or the shopkeeper? Finally, local residents intervened and the issue was left unsettled," he sighed.
This is not a lone case. Everyday the association gets to hear of such cases of cheats. "We are all the more scared after we came to know about the fake notes?" Behera said.
The letter to the President's office was sent to the RBI, which in turn has explained features currently available in notes that can make identification that much easy. The bank has assured to look into the matter and directed the chief secretary to look into the problems faced by the visually challenged.
Source: www.telegraphindia.comBack to Top
New Delhi, July 19: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore to specify procedures for selection of disabled candidates.
Bangalore–resident Vaishnavi Kasturi, a visually impaired person, after failing to make it through to the prestigious management institute had filed an RTI application seeking details regarding evaluation criteria adopted for shortlisting disabled candidates.
Kasturi, who secured a competitive percentile of 89.29 in the Common Entrance Test (CAT)–2006 had sought information on her overall result and performance details of other disabled candidates who were shortlisted for admission to the 2007–batch of the institute.
Source: http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/002200707190309.htmBack to Top
Mangalore: Pilikula Nisargadhama would set a mile stone with its human face. The authorities of the park have come up with a new idea to help those who are visually impaired to get the maximum benefits on visiting the zoo, as the zoo has been attracting tourists from within and outside the district.
Bhandary remarks that the authorities have ambitious plans to make it a complete park.
Some projects are in the pipeline like an aviary, an insect museum, a fish pond with endangered and rare fish from the region to enhance the appeal of the zoo, he added.
Lately the zoo has been upgraded to a medium zoo by the central zoo authority.
Source: http://www.daijiworld.com/news/news_disp.aspBack to Top
HYDERABAD: In an effort to unlock the untapped potential of visually–impaired children and to make available Braille literature on science and astronomy, which are pretty rare to find, city–based Planetary Society of India (PSI), has launched a Braille newsletter aptly titled Chandrayaan, India's first unmanned moon mission.
In association with Government Braille Press of Malakpet and Department of Astronomy, Osmania University, the society has already prepared sample copies of the newsletter and are making efforts to distribute them among children at Government School for Blind (Girls) Malakpet.
According to the society members, the newsletter is aimed at inspiring the visually–impaired, who are more than capable of using their mental prowess to good use. Fittingly, the newsletter has a special chapter on Stephen Hawking, the celebrated science thinker who despite his physical disability, made it big. "It's very easy to publish a newsletter in Braille. However, it is impossible these days to find science and astronomy literature that will suit the needs of the visually–impaired. Moreover, there is also a dire need for funding such projects," points out Gangaram, Manager, Government Braille Press.
The newsletter also has a full chapter dedicated to the Chandrayaan project. "It would be a giant leap for Indian space community and it is quite apt to dedicate a full chapter on Chandrayaan," says general secretary of Planetary Society of India (AP Chapter) N. Raghunandan Kumar.
Members from PSI point out that they are in constant touch with Indian Space Research Organisation to acquire funding for the project, so that these newsletters could be taken to other parts of the State. "We feel that despite the handicap, if children from an early age are exposed to science or astronomy, they would definitely become an asset to the society. However, the catch here is whether this concept can be sustained for long," Mr. Kumar said.
Source: http://www.hindu.com/2007/07/14/stories/2007071460600400.htmBack to Top
CHENNAI: Members of the All India Confederation of Organisations for Persons with Mental Disability have petitioned Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi to bring all special educators and caregivers in special schools into regular time scale.
Currently, about 200 special schools have employed 1,300 special education professionals and caregivers who are languishing without any assured income. In a statement, Confederation representatives urged the Chief Minister to provide salary grant, which will amount to less than Rs.10 crore per annum, for these NGOs. There was already provision in the budget for helping NGOs providing service in the field.
They welcomed the Social Welfare Department's move to identify 20,000 children severely affected with mental disabilities for the monthly grant/maintenance allowance of Rs.500, following the budgetary allocation of Rs.25 crore for the specific purpose by the Chief Minister.
Source: http://www.hindu.com/2007/07/17/stories/2007071759580500.htmBack to Top
CHENNAI: An integrated mobility system for the physically disabled people and
the elderly was demonstrated to railway officials on Wednesday at the
Chennai Central Station.
The manufacturers of the system's key components, Callidai Motor Works, have also given the authorities an undertaking that they would provide the equipment free of cost with the help of sponsors.
For Mumbai–based architect and senior citizen C.S.K. Raj, the demonstration was the culmination of a long exchange of letters and battle of wills with the officialdom.
He began corresponding a few years ago with the then Railway Minister Nitish Kumar to convince him of the merits of his proposed 'Reach Out System' to cross foot over bridges and a new wheelchair system to help persons from their vehicles to their compartments.
Except Chennai Central, where all platforms can be reached easily by a newly–introduced vehicle for transporting those who need assistance with mobility, most stations require negotiating foot over bridges to reach other platforms.
This space can be made accessible to the physically disabled people by providing lifts that can move passengers across platforms, he suggested.
The motorised wheelchair is the key feature in the provision of mobility, Mr. C.S.K. Raj said. The chair can assist users till the train compartment and the seat mechanically lifted to the level of the compartment entry.
Finally, Mr. C.S.K. Raj received a letter last week from Southern Railway asking for a demonstration.
Following the demonstration on Wednesday, a joint meeting with the officials concerned was held at the office of the stationmaster and Bhargav Sundaram, proprietor, Callidai Motor Works, asked for a letter detailing the proposal.
Mr. Sundaram has undertaken to produce sufficient numbers of the system for stations in the country, fund the entire cost including that of drivers, maintenance and other incidental or recurring costs through sponsors and make the service available for embarkation and disembarkation free of cost. The response of the railways is being awaited, Mr. C.S.K. Raj said.
Source: www.hindu.com/2007/07/10/stories/2007071050290200.htmBack to Top
PANJAB UNIVERSITY (PU) will be providing a facility of ramps for disabled students in various departments on campus. There are over 100 disabled students in PU and the number is likely to go up this year. Other than students, there are some faculty members as well as other differently disabled employees in various departments.
According to PU authorities, the board of finance has cleared a budget of Rs 6 lakh to construct ramp at all required places in the campus. The authorities added the new facilities are being created not only to implement the law, but also to encourage disabled students to pursue higher education.
Source: Hindustan Times, 10 July, Chandigarh EditionBack to Top
New Delhi, July 9, 2007: With just six more days to go for colleges to open, students on the
waiting list are worried about their future.
For instance, Mishabahul, who is first on the waiting list of St Stephens college, is trying to take some last minute guidance and help from one of his seniors, hoping that he is lucky enough to get admitted.
It is the hostel facility at St Stephens that attracts him the most. Mishbahul is visually impaired and for him a safe and convenient accommodation is priority.
''If I do not get a hostel, then it will be difficult for me, because a PG is costlier, that will pose a problem but I will manage,'' said Mishabahul, Student, Delhi University. Mishbahul knows that college life will not be all that easy and that coping with the pressure of studies would be easier if he becomes a resident of the college.
''Traveling will be a problem, and in a PG, I won't know people. Hostel atmosphere is really good. I can come to college and easily go for classes, the study atmosphere is really good,'' said Mishbahul.
For a visually impaired student, a safe and secure campus becomes really important, and a hostel usually provides that to a student.
Mishbahul's elder brother Khalid wants to be there for his brother's admission and hostel hunting process, as he knows that in his own times he faced a lot of difficulties – especially when he was still waiting to get a hostel.
''I faced a lot of problems, got a residence much later and I had to commute daily. For a blind student, it is really difficult to travel in a crowded bus or even a metro,'' said Khalid, Mishbahul's Elder Brother.
Mishbahul is new and is still very shy, but is happy to see the support from his seniors. He is still trying to get is way around the college. But Khalid knows that more than a PG a hostel will make his brother's life a lot simpler
For every student, college life has many aspects, and living in a hostel is one of them. But for students like Khalid and Mishbahul, it is also a convenient place, where they can cut down the costs and inconvenience of commuting and give more time to their studies.
Source: http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspxBack to Top
COIMBATORE: S. Prabhavathi has cerebral palsy. She is good in studies
and is quick to learn. She can barely walk without the help of a walker.
Prabhavathy was on the verge of discontinuing her studies after
completing her Class V because she could not find a new school to
The school which she had been going to was downsizing to Class V for children with locomotor disabilities, owing to dwindling strength. "Finding a school for my daughter was a Herculean task," says S. Gnanambal, her mother. "We visited a lot of schools, but none of them had the facilities to accommodate someone like Prabha," she adds. When she approached a Government school, she was politely refused a seat with a piece of advice that 'special children' like her would not get individual attention in a regular school.
The aspirations of parents like Ms. Gnanambal who want to educate their disabled children have met a roadblock with very few schools functioning in the city that cater to the needs of children with locomotor disabilities. Though the Government has announced that students with disabilities should be integrated into normal schools, nothing has been done in the schools to accommodate such children, says JKala. R, senior project manager of Amrit Institute for Special Needs.
Hence, the children prefer to continue their education in special schools, which are very few in the city, Ms. JKala points out. While there are a handful of schools for the hearing, speech and visually impaired, there are few schools that cater exclusively to the needs children with locomotor disability.
The institute has been trying in vain to place the children in various other regular schools in the city. But, a majority of the students are unable to cope with the unfriendly environments of a regular school. "Most of the classes in regular schools are upstairs, the toilets are not disabled–friendly or are located too far away from the classrooms. Also, there are no ramps for making movement easy for those on wheelchairs. Children with certain orthopaedic disabilities can walk only up to 50 metres," Ms. Gnanambal says.
In the hostile environs of a regular school, such children feel all alone. And, this forces them to discontinue studies. The parents have so much to say. Either make regular schools disabled–friendly or start more special schools.
Source: www.hindu.com/2007/07/07/stories/2007070756580100.htmBack to Top
New Delhi, July 08: Delhi University is planning a resource centre,
replete with special computer labs, counselling facilities, consultants
for use of disabled friendly appliances, new diploma courses and an
administrative centre, for disabled students.
The centre will also feature the first–ever digital library for disabled people at the university level, DU officials said.
The Equal Opportunities Cell (EOC) has proposed that the centre be set up on the ground floor area of the Tutorial building in the Arts Faculty. "The focus of the exercise is to eventually make all 72 colleges, as well as the main DU buildings, disabled–friendly," said Professor RK Agnihotri, Head of the EOC Department.
Consultant to the project, said, "The digital library will consist of special computers, machines and software adapted to each disability. The physically disabled people will get special mouth controlled mice, those with visual and hearing disabilities will get computers that automatically scan books in audio and Braille format."
The computers will be connected to "jstor", an international online library which has the latest research material on all subjects. The library will also be the national and inter–university database for all electronic texts, officials said.
The centre will also house two classrooms for a one–year diploma course in transcription services for the blind, Braille book and audio production training. "Our focus will be on training those who look after the disabled and also those small private players that manufacture utilities for the disabled," said Manoche.
Two computer labs for the physically handicapped and the blind have been proposed. This facility could also be used to take exams, officials added.
There will also be a separate room for consultants to tend to students with major disabilities as well as facilities to test disabled related appliances.
To address psychological strains three counselling rooms will be set up. "Teachers and volunteers from the Psychological Department would counsel the students," said Manoche. The Braille library (1970s) and the audio book resource centre will be overhauled, he added.
The EOC will be commissioning a disabled audit of all 72 colleges under Delhi University through NGO Samarthya to identify challenges faced by the visually–disabled.
Source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.phpBack to Top
DHARWAD: It hardly looks like the hub of an information revolution. Located in a non–descript town, more than 50 km from Dharwad in Karnataka, this special school for the hearing–impaired is trying to make a difference. Of course, with a little help from technology.
Ever since the school introduced computers, its children have found a new reason to attend class everyday. Suddenly, a world they never knew existed has opened up for them. It has triggered their hunger for knowledge so much that they are now rethinking their goals – they want to do something more in life... something that also involves computers and computing.
Fifteen–year–old Soumya Kalyani is one of them. This specially–enabled child from Shri B D Tatti (Annavaru) Memorial Charitable Trust in Lakshmeshwar, has just passed her class 10th with 82%. A big achievement for the petite girl, who was a below–average student just three years back.
"I have seen the change in her. Her interest in studies increased once we introduced computer–based learning. She wanted to excel in every subject," says G P Pawar, her computer and history teacher. Now, Soumya is packing her bags to leave for Mysore where she will join a polytechnic for special students and do a diploma in computer sciences. "I want to come back and teach computers in my school one day," says the proud child in sign language.
Soumya says thanks to PCs, the process of learning became more interesting and easy for her, and her grades improved dramatically. Now, she's encouraging her younger sister – also a specially–enabled child – to enhance her knowledge and grades through IT.
Like Soumya, many other students have seen their life transformed by technology. Shidappa Malti, a class IX student at the same school, says he can grasp subjects better now. "My scores have gone up to 80%," says the farmer's son. He's confident of scoring 80% plus in his boards next year and wants to become a software developer eventually. Similarly, Martha Dasar of the same school says she'll score 95% in maths now, for she can feel the difference PCs have made in helping her understand the subject.
Besides helping to bridge the knowledge gap among special students, technology is also making the life of the teachers easier now. Meena KB, who has been teaching special children for over two years, underwent a 12–day training at an IT academy in Dharwad. "Explaining routine topics in history or maths to these children in the traditional way was very tough. Since they can't hear, each topic had to be repeated several times. Now it's easy. We involve them in project work and teach through charts and pictograms on computers. Their scores, too, have improved from 60% to 80% now," she says.
The initiative to teach computers to these special kids was taken by Microsoft India under its programme 'Project Shiksha – Empowering the future', aimed at students and teachers in government schools. The company entered into an MoU with the Karnataka government to train teachers in computer skills and so far, 4,722 teachers have been trained and over two lakh students have benefited from it.
Officials say the training for teachers of this special school has opened up a completely unexplored facet about the relevance of information and computer technology in education. "Teachers are able to use technology in teaching and immediately see good results. One hopes technology can be leveraged to the maximum to benefit these special children," says M S Patil, joint director, education department, Dharwad.
Realising how effective computers are in teaching these special children, the teachers of Shri BD Tatti school have now developed a new sign language for teaching computers. According to Tarun Malik, group lead, public sector strategy and marketing, Microsoft India, 180 signs have been developed so far. These pertain to computer terms like how to open a new file, save it and so on.
"After our success in Karnataka, we plan to replicate the exercise across India for special children. The language will be finetuned further based on the feedback from these students," Malik explains. Microsoft is now in the process of finalising its plans for other states. The students too helped develop the new language. "Soumya along with others has chipped in a big way to develop the language," says S S Mahajanshettar, secretary of the school.
He plans to introduce computer–based learning at the pre–school level too. "These children are not part of the mainstream because of their disability. I want to end their isolation," he says. As for the children, they have suddenly discovered a whole new world. And are loving every bit of it. Just like 12–year–old Vijay Kumar, a budding artist, who is now using a mouse to paint his dreams. And it sure is filling his life with bright colours.
Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.comBack to Top
Chandigarh, July 5: Father of a visually impaired student, Kirti
Agnihotri, has claimed that his daughter was denied admission to the
hostel of Government College for Girls, Sector 11. The reason given was
that the girl would not be able to take care of herself, he claimed.
Kirti, who is from to Hoshiarpur in Punjab, had cleared her Class XII examination from the Institute for the Blind, Sector 26, by securing 75 per cent marks in the arts stream.
Harsh Agnihotri, Kirti's father, said she had stayed in a hostel during her schooling. "Although visually impaired, Kirti is a national–level singer and has won many prizes in singing. She wishes to make music her career," the father said.
Agnihotri added that his daughter had always wanted to acquire higher education from a college in Chandigarh. "We applied in Government College for Girls, Sector 11. She was given admission, but was denied hostel facility. The college staff told us that she could stay in a paying guest accommodation instead and her mother could shift with her, " he claimed.
He said, "Kirti is an independent child. In fact she helps us in household chores. She would have adjusted well. But now we have to get admission in a college in Hoshiarpur. What hurt us the most was the the attitude of the college staff."
Though Agnihotri claimed that he had also met college principal Promila Kaushal, the latter denied having met him. She said, "I enquired about the incident from my staff. They said it was the father who had requested them to counsel his daughter to take admission in Hoshiarpur as they wanted her to be closer home. We give admission as per rules and we have given admission to physically challenged students as well. There is no reason we would deny admission to her."
The father, however, termed the college's claims as lies and denied having asked them to counsel his daughter.
Source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.phpBack to Top
MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Wednesday issued notices to Central and
Western Railways for failing to make stations its failure to make
railway stations disabled friendly.
Hearing a petition filed by India Centre for Human Rights and Law to make urban transport in the city accessible to disabled people as provided under the law, a division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Ranjana Desai asked the railways as well as the the Union and state governments to file replies.
"Platforms would have to allow special facilities to allow disabled persons to board trains without any problem," said the judges.
Under the Persons with Disability Act, there is a special "non – discrimination" clause that makes it mandatory for the government and other agencies to make public spaces and transport facilities disabled friendly. The Act proposes to make rail compartments, toilets, aircraft and ships easily accessible to challenged persons and those using wheelchairs. The Act also asks the government to provide for auditory signals at traffic signals, engraving on the surface of zebra crossings and railway platforms and warning signals for the challenged.
According to the petitioners, despite the provisions that have been framed under the law, the implementation was far from satisfactory. At present, railway platforms are provided with auditory signals to indicate location of the special compartment for disabled persons. However, low platforms and pedestrian overbridges make railway stations generally out of bounds for physically disabled persons, especially those on wheelchairs or without an escort.
Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/MumbaiBack to Top
HONOUR: Tamil Nadu Handicapped Federation Charitable Trust president G.
Chidambaranathan (right) and Head (Chennai Operations) of Ascendas Lee
Fu Nyap present an excellence award to a differently–abled achiever in
Chennai on Sunday.
Chennai: Tamil Nadu Handicapped Federation Charitable Trust president G. Chidambaranathan on Sunday underlined the significance of providing opportunities and assistance to physically challenged persons. This was necessary as the physically challenged could achieve anything if given opportunities and provided assistance, he said.
Mr. Chidambaranathan was speaking at a function here, in which excellence awards were presented to 20 persons with disability for their achievements in different fields. The programme was organised by Ascendas, a space provider for IT companies, and the Trust. Each of the awardees received an award, a certificate and a cash prize.
Men and women with different physical disabilities received the awards for achievements in art, sports, academics and music. One of the recipients, J. Uma Maheshwari, has completed three degrees by writing her examinations with her feet. Another awardee, Gopi Kannan, has won over 32 gold medals in the javelin competition at the Para–Olympics.
Singapore Consul–General Ajit Singh gave away some of the awards, while the rest were presented by Lee Fu Nyap, Head (Chennai Operations) of Ascendas. Mr. Nyap said the ceremony was an inspirational event and that it was a celebration of the triumph of the human spirit.
The ceremony began with a light music show by Gangai Maran and the troupe of the movie Chennai 600028. Comedy King Vivek added mirth and humour to the show.
Source: www.hindu.com/2007/07/02/stories/2007070257110200.htmBack to Top
Thiruvananthapuram: A helpline was launched here Saturday for
providing assistance to children suffering from hearing disabilities.
Social Service Foundation, a non–governmental organisation (NGO), launched the Shishu Sravana Helpline, which will provide information about the nearest hospitals where treatment facilities are available for children with hearing disabilities.
"This is basically meant to facilitate the treatment of early hearing disabilities in children," Srijith Sreedharan, managing trustee of the Social Service Foundation said at the launch of the new facility.
"All those who need this service just need to call a number and they will be provided guidance and information on the nearest government or private centre in Kerala where diagnostic facilities are available," he said.
Hearing disabilities in children can be detected as early as a few hours after birth with modern diagnostic instruments such as Oto–acoustic Emissions (OAE) Analysers and ABR (Auditory Brainstem Response) units.
Hearing ailments often remain undetected until the child is a few years old.Since children can learn to speak only when they are very young, children with hearing disabilities fail to learn any language, which can only be picked up by listening to it.
Early detection and quick treatment can help those children who are born with hearing disabilities.
John Panicker, an ENT specialist, said that children with hearing disabilities have a limited window when they can acquire the spoken language.
"After two years, a child's language learning ability declines. The Sishu Sravan Helpline will guide parents suspecting hearing disabilities in children, to the nearest centre with facilities for detecting and treating the problem," he said.
The helpline will function with the support of mobile service provider 'Idea' and Australian firm 'Cochlear Australia' who deal with implantable hearing solutions.
Source: http://mangalorean.com/news.phpBack to Top
With 106 rooms in a lone hostel and zero facilities for disabled people, varsity hard pressed to fill even a third of 1,000 reserved seats, say officials
New Delhi, July 02: DELHI University (DU) has 1,000 seats reserved for disabled students. But it has received only 284 applications for admission till date this academic session.
The reason is not hard to fathom: the university's sole hostel for disabled people ? 'Blind Hostel' in Outram Lines ? can accommodate only 106 students. And 90 per cent of the seats are occupied even this early in the admission season.
Among the best varsities in the country it may be, but DU still has miles to go in way of providing facilities for its special students. And even Vice Chancellor Deepak Pental admits as much: "They have a difficult time because most of our colleges do not have hostels and disabled–friendly facilities."
Though the DU reference library has a braille computer, attending college is anything but a stroll for the visually disabled students. Ram Niwas, 23, a visually impaired MA student of Hindu College and an inmate of Blind Hostel, puts his walk to the college as a "a daily brush with death". He says, "Just to get to my classes and back is scary because I have to cross the busy traffic in front of my hostel, which is quite far from the campus." Niwas still recalls the death of two fellow visually disabled Hindu students who were run over by a Blueline bus on the same road some time ago ? one student died while the other was critically injured. Niwas says he now depends on the compassion of a "chaiwalla here" to cross the road.
Jai Prakash, a Rajdhani College student, says the Blind Hostel roof leaks every monsoon and inmates do not get proper, nourishing food. "If we fall sick, only repeated pleas to the staff ensure a trip to the doctor."
Joint Dean of Students' Welfare S K Verma says a primary criterion for disabled students to select colleges is hostel accommodation, for "transport is always a big problem for them. But since most of our colleges do not have such facilities, many disabled students stay away even when offered good courses."
Even in colleges like St Stephen's, Hindu, Miranda, Hansraj, Kirori Mal, LSR, Daulat Ram and Ramjas ? all of these have their own hostels ? the disabled are left to the "goodwill" of students and the faculty to get around the premises.
Even course–wise, disabled students have to stick to a set pattern as the infrastructure does not address their special needs. "Visually impaired students, for instance, do not opt for pure science subjects. Such subjects require a lot of experimentation and visual ability guides that we do not possess," Verma says. "Students suffering from certain mental diseases are also forced to study subjects like Psychology, Sociology and so forth."
Dean of Colleges Shirin Rathore says disabled women students become easy victims of abuse and harassment outside the campus. Students aside, even disabled teachers have a tough time in DU, with only 25 of 185 posts reserved for them filled at present. A university official says on conditions of anonymity that despite good performances most disabled teachers are "not hired permanently because most principals see them as a liability".
Prof R K Agnihotri, who heads a DU committee formed to address such issues, says though most colleges are at present inaccessible to the disabled, the "university is now looking at changing the situation".
Disability not foreign in varsities abroad
Universities like Harvard (Plymouth, USA), Maastricht (Germany), and McGill (Montreal, Canada) among others have special special ramps and lifts in all necessary buildings, reading rooms with latest Braille technology, specially designed hostel rooms and bathrooms, besides parking areas. For any academic help, disabled students in these varsities can approach student deans, student advisors, career counsellors and student psychologists for specialised help.
While DU recognises only physically, visually or mentally disabled students, these universities also recognise all motor, sensory or psychological disorders and non–visible disorders, chronic fatigue, depression, chronic illness and so forth.
Source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.phpBack to Top
A number of disability quota seats are going empty in DU? Why?
This year too, Delhi University (DU) has not seen many applications for UG courses in the disability category. The officials are worried about the dwindling number of applications. And so, the colleges have now trying their bit to attract these students back to their colleges.
From constructing ramps, providing special softwares to assigning them key roles in the college in an effort to integrate them to the larger student community, the colleges are making sure that these special children see the college as their 'second home'. "On an average, DU receives around 325–350 applications each year for disability category. Although the total number of seats sanctioned for disabled candidates is well over a thousand, we have received about 330 applications this year," says SK Vij, dean, student's welfare.
College authorities are forced to leave most of the seats vacant due to the non–availability of suitable candidates. They hope that a few 'positive' steps to identify and solve the various problems of these students will help in reversing the trend in the coming years. Claims Kanika Khandelwal, media coordinator, LSR, "Our college has one of the largest number of disabled students in DU. All our seats that are reserved for disability category get filled up every year." She said that it was the college's policy to encourage these students. "We have constructed a new ramp for the students in the administrative block along with the existing ramp near in the academic building. We have also provided them with softwares like JAWS and SAFA. The students are given writers who are handpicked from NSS volunteers. These volunteers also help them in their studies in the college hostel," she adds.
LSR has also set examples of its inclusive policy by assigning major duties to these students. "We have stood by them and encouraged them. Three years ago, a visually impaired girl, Jyoti Magu, was popularly elected as the sports president of the college," elaborates Khandelwal.
SR Arora, principal, Hans Raj College says, "We generally manage to fill up all the disability quota seats." He says that his college takes special care of these students. "We have already installed four ramps in our college. We have provided Braille books and special softwares for the visually challenged students. In addition, apart from the NSS volunteers, we have a Blind Students' Club especially formed by Hans Raj College students to look after them. Our teachers can be personally approached, and wherever possible, we send step in to solve their problems."
According to Pratibha Jolly, principal, Miranda House, the resource centre of the college has been made disabled friendly. "Along with ramps, we have made sure that the special needs of these students are met in our state of the art resource centre," says she.
Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/City_Supplements/Delhi_TimesBack to Top
MUMBAI: Over 10 years after the Persons with Disabilities Act was passed in 1995, children with disabilities continue to remain low on the priority list of the state government.
As per the 2001 Census, of the 9.68 crore population, around 15.69 lakh people from various forms of disabilities. In addition to this figure, a survey revealed that around 6.94 lakh children between the age group of 0– 14 were detected with disabilities.
Activists complain that state aid to this vulnerable group has been a pittance with help being mostly restricted to distributing glasses, hearing aids, glasses and wheel chairs. Statistics provided by the state to the high court recently added further ammo to the allegations.
What ails the system, despite the funds allocated for rehabilitation of disabled person, is the lack of a comprehensive plan to deal with children with disabilities, according to advocate Uday Warunjikar, counsel for Maharashtra Rajya Apang Karamchari Sanghatana, which had filed a PIL on the government's failure to recruit disabled persons despite the 3% reservation in state departments.
The report submitted to the HC by J N Rathod, deputy secretary, social justice department, makes for curious reading. Despite the funds being allocated for various projects to help children with disabilities the benefit is restricted to less than 1% of the intended group.
Consider this: For the 1.56 lakh visually impaired children, government aid in the form of white cane sticks and glasses has been provided to just 68 and 4,959 children respectively. Around 6,212 children have undergone eye surgery at the state's expense, leaving a substantial majority out of the state largess.
When it comes to providing rehabilitation to children and youth with disabilities, the situation is equally bleak. In 2006–07 the state made available Rs 461 lakh to 21 government institutions that benefited 1,071 people. The same year, funds were provided to NGOs who run 674 special schools and vocational training centres, which benefited 32,992 children in the 6–18 age group.
Disabled students also received scholarships of between Rs 50 and Rs 100 per month to pursue their studies, despite the fact that it is mandatory for the state to provide free education to children with special needs, according to advocate Warunjikar. The PIL and the report is scheduled to come up for hearing in the HC on Thursday.
Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.comBack to Top
New Delhi, June 30: National Training Course for Visually Impaired Women organised by All Indian Confederation of Blind concluded on Saturday.
The one–and–a–half–month course is organised every year for visually impaired women who have completed their schooling.
Apart from regular activities like walking, eating etc. women are trained in computers, cooking, knitting and stitching, stenography and typing. They are also taught karate for self defence. There is also a talking book library for them and they are also informed about legal issues.
"Now I don't need to depend on others for day–to–day activities," Sarvathan Khan from Pakistan said.
Another disabled person, Habhi from Chennai, said, "The training has empowered us to face the challenges of life."
The concluding session was followed by a song and dance performance by the women.
Mayor Arti Mehra was the chief guest for the function but she couldn't turn up and her place was taken up by Silvana Inselmann, Regional Director, CBM (SARO) North.
The function concluded with the prize distribution to the participants.
Source: http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.phpBack to Top
NEW DELHI, June 29: Indian Railways is going in for a major revamp. During the release of the new time table for Northern Railways (NR), North Central (NCR) and North Eastern railways (NER) today, officials said they are going to take travelling in trains to a higher level with revamp of passenger amenities. In addition, for the first time, two trains have been converted from passenger to express.
The revamp plans issued today included a model for improving 'Touch and Feel Factors' standard ramps for barrier free entry, non–slippery walkways, disabled friendly toilets, appropriate signages and help booths for physically disabled. Ten stations from each of the NR divisions Delhi, Ambala, Moradabad, Lucknow and Firozepur, have been identified for the modernisation proposal.
The NR spokesperson, Mr Rajiv Saxena, said plans are underway so that passengers would not have to wait on platforms. "The main structure of a station would have all the facilities required by passengers. Be it waiting rooms, food courts or any other requirements, they would be available in the main structure itself. We would also be improving announcement facilities, lighting, booking and enquiry offices, drinking water facilities and taking care of pests and rodents," he said.
Northern Railways would be introducing 12 new trains across the country which includes an EMU between New Delhi, Delhi, Shahdara, Tilak Bridge and Sahibabad stations. The focus this year is mainly in the NER segment. The trains include Jabalpur–New Delhi express, Gorakhpur–Yeshwantpur (Begaluru) express, Bhagalpur–New Delhi express, Pune–Gorakhpur express, Chhapra–Lokmanya Tilak Jansadharan express, Indore–Amritsar express, Nizamuddin–Dehradun express and Lucknow–Raipur express.
A few awaited extension of routes include the one from Jammu Tawi to Ajmer, which earlier terminated at Jaipur. This is being done to connect two holy places. The other includes extension of Delhi–Jammu Tawi express to Udhampur, earlier terminating at Jammu.
Source: http://www.thestatesman.net/page.arcview.phpBack to Top
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