Visually impaired people are known to use Braille script for reading and writing. They also use computers, smartphones, or other assistive devices for the same. In fact, many blind people don’t know Braille but they are well-versed with technology. But the general perception remains that a blind person cannot read or write in a mainstream format. Hence, there are provisions mandated by law to use a scribe to appear for examinations.
How easy is it to avail the services of a scribe? Are schools, colleges and official authorities aware of the guidelines to provide a scribe for a visually impaired student or even a job aspirant?
Twenty-one-year-old Manmohan Singh from Gonda, Uttar Pradesh could not appear for his Class X examination because his school officials were neither aware of the rules nor did they act in time.
Manmohan studied from an inclusive school which did not seek prior approval from the state board to provide him with a scribe. As a result, he was not issued an admit card. When Manmohan contacted Eyeway for help, the counselor shared a scribe form to be approved by the Principal. Once signed by the school authority, it would enable him to engage a scribe to write his exam. But the principal ignored it and Manmohan lost an academic year.
Educational institutions in various parts of the country also fail to provide study material that is accessible to blind students through audio output.
Twenty-year-old Jeel Kakkad is a first year B. Com student in a Mumbai college. As a person with low vision, she contacted Eyeway to seek help with the inaccessible study material and arranging a scribe.
The counselor asked Jeel to get her syllabus in a PDF format which could then be converted into audio recordings for her to study independently. She was also put in touch with a few organizations that provide scribes to students like her.
Blind people appearing for competitive exams to seek employment also face the scribe challenge. Thirty-seven-year-old Namratha Rajwani from Hyderabad acquired blindness later in life. She was unfamiliar with how and where she could seek assistance. Unable to arrange a scribe herself, a week before her exam for a job selection, she contacted Eyeway. Luckily the counselor could help source one for her in a short span of time.
Technology has bridged the gaps of access between the sighted and the blind world, in a lot of ways. In this increasingly digital world, shouldn’t it be mandatory to impart computer training to visually impaired students from an early age, so that they can access mainstream education and employment opportunities seamlessly?