TN yet to implement assistive devices for differently-abled students

Owing to differently-abled students mostly using scribes to write exams, the directorate decided to use assistive devices for the 2021-22 board exam.
Representative Image
Representative Image

CHENNAI: Despite the directorate of government examination allowing differently-abled students of classes 10, 11 and 12 to write board exams using assistive devices, teachers working in special schools claim no arrangements were made during the exam or have received any information on the initiative as of yet.

The directorate in April released a government order allowing differently-abled students to write board exam using assistive devices such as talking calculator, tailor frame, braille slate, abacus, geometry kit, braille measuring tape, communication chart and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) electronic devices.

Owing to differently-abled students mostly using scribes to write exams, the directorate decided to use assistive devices for the 2021-22 board exam.

A teacher working at a government special school on the condition of anonymity said, “35 students from our school wrote the final exam using scribes. Even during the exams or after, we were not informed about using assistive devices to write exams. Our students so far have only used an angle pro app to record lessons.”

Pointing out the need to introduce assistive devices at the earliest, the teacher added, “As students are mostly used to scribes writing exams for them, it might take a long time for students to get used to devices and write exams independently. Hence, the directorate along with the department of welfare of differently-abled persons should implement steps early.”

Interestingly, the teacher also pointed out the need for government laptops so that the students can be trained.

Another teacher of a government-aided special school also said that none of her hearing impaired students used any sort of assistive device to write board exams this year. “Different assistive devices will be required for different conditions. More importantly, children must be trained well in advance to use these devices in board exams.”

Speaking to DT Next, an official from the department of differently-abled said, “We will soon be taking steps to create awareness regarding assistive devices among students. However, we also will request the respective teachers from special schools to put forward any important suggestions they have.”

The official added that owing to conditions, students mostly with visual, hearing and speech impairments along with cerebral palsy (congenital disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture) and locomotive disability appear for board exams in Tamil Nadu.

“The need for devices will vary as per their conditions, hence, we will soon address this will teachers of special schools.”

The directorate of government examination did not respond despite multiple attempts.

CBSE girl with visual impairment first to use laptop in TN:

GV Oviya, a visually impaired girl is the first to use a laptop in Tamil Nadu to write both her classes 10 and 12 CBSE board exam in 2020 and 2022 respectively. Oviya has been practicing with a laptop from class III and began using the gadget for exams from Class 7.

“It is easier to write exams on a laptop compared to any other assistance. Also, we can use a regular laptop and download softwares such as jaws application, which will help as screen reader and NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA).”

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