Some important news for visually impaired students studying in CBSE schools. The CBSE Board has announced a series of moves to make mainstream education more accessible for them.
From 2020, students with visual impairments can use magnifying glasses and portable video magnifiers during their Class 10 exams.
This is the announcement in the CBSE’s words — “Alternative-type questions will be provided in lieu of questions having visual inputs for visually impaired candidates in social science. With effect from 2020, in lieu of large-font question papers, candidates will be allowed to use magnifying glasses/portable video magnifiers.
The move will open more avenues for visually impaired people believes Divya Sharma, who was forced to opt for home schooling from Class 8 after none of the schools in her hometown, Naya Nangal, Punjab would agree to teach a visually impaired child.
“This new step announced by the CBSE will not help someone who is blind but will certainly bring relief to low vision people like me, says Sharma who was affected with glaucoma in childhood. “It reduces the dependency on scribes or writers and is a good step to that extent too.
She hopes it will be followed by more measures to make subjects accessible, especially science and maths. “If they had been there when I was studying, life would have been easier certainly. The larger problem she believes lies in access. “These gadgets they have mentioned are not cheap so I am wondering how many students will be able to afford them?
A more effective, accessible alternative believes Pranay Gadodia would be to not specify the gadgets students can use.
Regardless, this is a baby towards making mainstream education inclusive and accessible and should be celebrated. As Vidhya Y, a visually impaired topper from the International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore (IIITB) says. “those who can afford these devices will use them. Even if one or two students and not the whole country is able to, it’s a step forward. “
While she agrees that more options should be made available for students, this is a step forward in the right direction. The larger issue, says Vidhya, who presently works with the organization Vision Empower, which seeks to make STEM subjects accessible to students with visual impairments lies with lack of awareness.
“The CBSE is giving alternatives in math and science that make these subjects accessible, but few visually impaired students are availing those opportunities. Awareness needs to be created so more people come forward. That, I feel, is key.