Thursday, September 29, 2022

Academic Council of Kerala University decides to permit 100% visually impaired to pursue Science Course, after SCPD's directions

Dear Colleagues,

The Academic Council of Kerala University on 16 Sep 2022 has taken a decision to permit 100% visually impaired student to pursue BSc Physics course after an applicant, who had scored 100% marks in the higher secondary examination, was unable to submit her online application for admission and she had to  subsequently petition the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities. The SCPD issued an order under provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 directing the Kerala University to do the needful. 

Before the current decision of the academic council, the undergraduate (UG) prospectus of the university has thus far permitted admissions for only visually impaired candidates with less than 40% disability to Science subjects which is contrary to the provisions of the RPWD Act. 

The council factored in various impediments during the discussion, including the low availability of Physics texts in Braille and prominence of practical work in Science subjects. It was decided to extend assistance, including the provision of scribes for regular practical work and examination in laboratories. The number of experiments will also be reduced to one-third of the total that must be completed by a regular student.

It is hoped that this decision will enaable more disabled aspirants to pursue higher education, particularly in Science and Mathematics in Kerala University. More Higher Education Institutes need to change their admission norms not to restrict students from admitting in the courses on the basis of their disability. On the contrary, the HEIs should focus on providing reasonable accommodations to applicants and creating a mechanism for such aspiring students to approach the HEI seeking such accommodations. 

The HEIs have to be cautious that they do not lower the course contents but enhance the support systems and better assistive technology solutions. This woud be in line with the Accessibility Guidelines and Standards for Higher Education Institutions and Universities June 2022 issued by the University Grants Commission, Ministry of Education, Govt. of India under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016.

Related Source: The Hindu

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