With schools and colleges shut down due to lockdown, visually-challenged students in the State are understandably worried. They don’t have audiobooks for all subjects or alternative study materials like braille texts. The State Government has paid little attention to the educational needs of visually-challenged students. Though the Government has decided to start online education for Class X students through the Diksha application after April 14, no such initiatives have been taken up at the college level.
A visually impaired student at the Open University recently expressed their frustration at being studying for their exams in a language they cannot understand. The student, who asked to remain anonymous, said that they were given study materials in English instead of Odia, even though they had specifically chosen to study in their native language.
They added that the university does not have any audio materials for their subject of history, making it even more difficult to get through the material. It’s a shame that this student is facing these challenges – we hope that the university can find a way to better support them in their studies.
Sruti Mohapatra, an activist, suggested that students of different departments should come forward and record audiobooks of all the books available of Plus II, Plus III, and PG, which can then be uploaded on the website of the Higher Education department. The reason for this is that people charge Rs 1000 for recording small texts and there are several practical problems; as a result, we don’t use laptops to a great extent. Most students depend on audio recordings of class lectures, and now that everyone is at home, this would be a great way to give back to the community.