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Shortage of writers poses a problem for blind students

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 10:42 -- geeta.nair

Ludhiana: With exams looming ahead, there are some visually impaired students who are trying their best to write exams and score well like normal children, but they are unable to find writers who can write their class 12 examination. TOI spoke to two of them.
Suraj Tiwari (19), who is blind by birth, was born in Ludhiana. He said: “We also want to write exams like normal people. My exams are going to start from February 21, and my first paper is Music Vocal, which also contains a theory test of 30 marks and 70 for practicals. To appear for the exam, we blind children need a writer who can write as we speak, but unfortunately, nobody is helping us provide a writer. We have requested some schools also, but there was no response. We need a writer of at least one class junior from us as per the CBSE rules. As I am in +2, I need a student of +1 or class 10 or 9 to be my writer.” 
He added: “In the past, there was a problem in learning stuff too, but now there is a foundation — the Cheema Foundation in Sector 9, Chandigarh — which is helping people like us in the learning part. It records the syllabus, and sends it to us in CDs, or we convert it into our memory cards at a mobile shop and listen to it. Each and every subject, and every book is recorded by the Cheema Foundation, which helps us learn things by listening alone, but it also has a flaw, as college students and other people record the audio syllabus for us, so it takes a lot of time to record it, as most of the books are at least 500-600 pages. Thus, we have to wait for a lot of time to get a CD of the syllabus.”
He continued: “Sometimes, the most difficult part is when the syllabus is changed. Then, we use a device called Saksham EVO E5. This device helps us listen to words, as this device scans everything and speaks it. I won this device in a competition in 2018 in Patiala. During exams days, I study after getting home from school. I go to school from 7.30am to 4pm, in school I listen to the teachers carefully. Then, from near about 5 to 9, I listen to audios, from which I learn all the syllabus. I have even won national and state awards — state-level award in Braille reading and writing, and a national debate award in 2019 in Delhi.”

Jaspal Singh (19), studying in class 11 of Ramgharia School, Vishkarama Chowk, too will be appearing for his exams in February. He also is facing the problem of shortage of writers. He said: “I want to study more, as it is my passion. I don’t want my disability to stop me from doing anything I want to, and I don’t want to feel I lack something. I have two Music subjects and History and English. My favourite subject is Music Vocal. I daily go to school from 8.30am to 12.30pm. Most of the time, I attend three periods, and then after coming back, I start studying by listening to the syllabus, sent in CDs by the Cheema Foundation. During exams days, I study near about 3-4 hours daily. I have also won national awards in long jump and cricket, and love to listen to songs after studying, as it relaxes me.”

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