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Miranda House - Moving towards accessibility

Tue, 07/31/2012 - 10:38 -- admin

The Hindu; New Delhi

Concerned about the lack of study material for students with visual disability, Miranda House is setting up the Amba Dalmia Resource Centre for Visually Challenged Students.

This centre will have computers with voice-enabled software like JAWS and Kurzweil. It will have networked computers with up-to-date technology to help students and will also house Braille books.

"Teachers at the college have already started reading out their course material, so that the library has a good collection of audio books. It was a decision taken by the Staff Council,'' says Ms. Nandini Dutta, a senior teacher at Miranda House.

The centre will aim at providing the best facilities for these students. The college, which is starting this project with a Rupees 5-lakh grant, hopes to be able to keep adding to this. There will be emphasis on moving beyond just providing study material for the students to make them self-sufficient.

"This resource centre will be different from a library. The college has also set up an Audio Book Production facility in a specially designed recording room. Miranda House has 13 students with visual disability and a large collection of Braille books,'' says Ms. Dutta.

Apart from providing reading material, the college is also seriously thinking how to improve the 'writer' system for students with visual disability. With students being dependant on their writers for examinations, it is hoping to find a technological solution to this problem.

"The rules of the University state that the writer must be a year junior to them. Technically, the University or the college has to provide students with visual disability the help of writers. But many times we can't do that and students have to find their own writers. Some of these people are not socially motivated and we are not always satisfied with their credentials,'' points out Ms. Dutta.

To overcome this problem, Miranda House is hoping to train students to use the talking software, so that they can read their paper. "However, this will involve lots of training for students and major infrastructure,'' adds Ms. Dutta.

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