Shimla: Himachal Pradesh Board of School Education has decided to provide free text books in Braille to all visually impaired students in the state. This was disclosed by Prof. CL Gupta, chairman of the Board while presiding over a seminar on “Rights of the Disabled: Role of Society”, organized by Shimla Study Circle of Panchnad Research Institute in Himachal Pradesh University. Journalist-turned professor and prominent disability rights activist Ajai Srivastava was the main speaker on this occasion.
Prof. CL Gupta said the Education Board was determined to extend equal opportunity to all students with disabilities in the state as per the provisions of Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995. According to him, “We have extended some special concessions to the students with mental retardation to promote liking for education among them. Earlier these concessions were available to deaf and blind students only.” He said last year the Education Board had increased extra time from half an hour to one hour in examination for the blind and other disabled students who use scribe, after Society for Disability and Rehabilitation Studies, Himachal Pradesh had raised a demand in this regard.
He said when it came to his notice that there was no system to provide text books in Braille to the blind students, he immediately took this matter with the concerned agencies. And finally it was finally decided to supply free Braille text books of all subjects to the students with visual impairment. The noted academician appreciated the efforts being made by Ajai Srivastava to strengthen disability rights movement in this hill state and said he has set a good example of activism.
Ajai Srivastava, chairman, Society for Disability and Rehabilitation Studies, Himachal Pradesh, in his lecture gave details of statutory provisions for the protection of rights of persons with disabilities. He, citing his own example, said when without having any formal education in social work, human rights or disability he could start a movement in Himachal Pradesh for the protection of rights of persons with disabilities, everybody in the society can do this.
He appealed the professors, research scholars and other students present in the seminar to come forward with a changed mindset that the disabled need parity, not charity. He said it was necessary to adopt rights based approach in place of charity based one when we think about disability or the disabled. According to him, sensitization in this regard in every section of society was necessary and small programmes, lectures and use of print and electronic media can play a vital role in propagating the right message.
RM Sharma, Superintendent of Police, Shimla, who was the guest of honour in the programme, said in most of the cases when there was violation of rights of any vulnerable section including the disabled; the intellectuals in the society remain mum. It is dangerous for the society. An interesting question- answer session was also held.
Earlier, Dr. Kul Bhushan Chandel, president of Shimla Study Circle of Panchnad Research Institute, gave an account of activities being carried out by the organization. D. Arun Kumar Singh proposed vote of thanks. A large number of professors, research schools and other students from different departments participated in the programme.