Bhubaneshwar: The idea of "inclusive" colleges and universities has throughly conquered the Department of Higher Education (DHE). There has been a delay in converting thoughts into actions and hence, the determent is now all set to translate its intent towards the differently-abled, into a reality.
The Vice-Chancellors of all the state-government funded universities and Regional Directors of education have been directed to make classrooms at all colleges and universities accessible to differently-abled students. The department has asked them to implement this as soon as possible.
A large portion of the colleges and universities in the capital city are inaccessible to physically-challenged students, and they have put forth their allegations about the same for a long time now. They pointed out that there are many lacunae which needs to be taken care of at Utkal University which is partially accessible to such students.
"Even in some comparatively new buildings within the university, there are no special facilities to cater to our needs. Those include lack of toilet facility. The huge University campus also needs to provide tactile markers so that the visually challenged persons can be guided through. Signage and toilets for physically challenged people also need to be worked out," said a Sanskrit student of the university.
Students also feel that at times the management at college and the faculty are not too cooperative when the matter is something which could cause inconvenience to them.
A reputed college refused to shift the classroom from 2nd floor to the ground floor when a B Com. student with difficulty in mobility had requested for the same, last year. The reason the college gave was that the teachers were finding it inconvenient to move from one floor to another as there was no facility of lift available at the college.
In a recent meeting, broadening the reach of inclusive education was discussed, as stated by the higher officials of the department. Following which a directive on provision of accessible classrooms in all colleges and universities, disabled friendly audio visual equipment and reading materials in libraries and computers with ‘JAWS' software for the blind, have been sent to the Vice-Chancellors, Regional Directors of education and the Chairman of CHSE, informed Joint Secretary, Higher Education Department, AK Nayak.
The blind students who use Braille for studies, students with impaired hearing, students with speech disability and orthopaedic handicapped students with disability of over 75% will be provided with these facilities with immediate effect.
The higher education institutions will aid for the cost of infrastructure changes and upgradation.