– Mita Mukherjee
Nearly 100 blind students of Jadavpur University, in West Bengal held a demonstration inside the campus for several hours demanding solution to the problem they are facing in managing their studies since the transition from physical to online learning.
The members of the Forum for Students with Disabilities of Jadavpur University who held the demonstration on Wednesday evening demanded the authorities to reopen the students’ hostel and the university’s Braille library with immediate effect.
The students in their complaint to the authorities said they were facing immense problems in studying the syllabus taught to them in the virtual classes in detail because of not having necessary Braille books.
Though, they said they had been using laptops and smartphones equipped with special screen reading devices for attending the online classes.
In the normal situation the students would go to the Braille library on the campus and study the topics in detail.
Simarul Halsona a MA, Bengali first-year student said that in addition to the poor internet connectivity, a problem that is most common even for the general students, the challenges are many more for the visually challenged students.
“Now that the university is closed and I am stranded in my hometown in Murshidabad, at least 205 km from Jadavpur (Kolkata) campus, I have to depend only what is taught in the online class. It is not possible for me to manage too many Braille books at home. In the absence of books I could not study well. As a result I have performed very poorly in the exams held by the university ,” Simarul Halsona told EducationWorld.
The students also complained about the difficulties they were facing in accessing the study materials and class notes sent to them in pdf files.
“Since we cannot read the pdf files, we have to depend on friends and relatives to read them out and get an audio recorded version done of the notes,” said another student.
The students lifted the agitation late in the evening on Wednesday after the authorities gave them an assurance that their problem would be looked into.
Suranjan Das, Jadavpur University vice chancellor said the problem the visually challenged students were facing was “genuine” and the university would do the needful to help them.
“Their problem is genuine. But we need the approval of higher authorities in the government to reopen the hostels. We are trying our best to solve their problem,” Das told EducationWorld.
The university would consider whether the students stranded in the districts could be given certain amount of funds for availing of temporary accommodations in the city. This will help them to access the Braille libraries located in the university and also in other places in the city.
The West Bengal government is yet to take a decision on reopening of schools and colleges in the state for conducting in-person classes. Classes are still being held in digital platforms.
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