TN yet to implement use of assistive devices for disabled students

TN yet to implement use of assistive devices for disabled students

Since they had been using the help of scribes to write exams, the directorate had decided to allow assistive devices for this year’s board exam.

CHENNAI: Despite the Directorate of Government Examination (DGE) allowing disabled students of classes 10-12 to write board exams using assistive devices, teachers working in special schools claim no arrangements were made during the exam. Nor have they received any information on the initiative taken on the same.

The DGE in April released a GO allowing disabled 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.

Since they had been using the help of scribes to write exams, the directorate had decided to allow assistive devices for this year’s board exam.

However, a teacher working at a government special school said, “From our school, 35 students wrote the final exam using scribes. During the exams or after, we were uninformed about allowing them to use assistive devices. 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, “Disabled students are used to scribes writing exams for them. So it may take some time for them to get used to devices and write exams independently. Hence, the DGE and 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 device to write exams this year.

“Different assistive devices will be required for different conditions. More importantly, children must be trained well in advance to use them efficiently in board exams,” she pointed out.

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

The official added that often, students 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 across schools in Tamil Nadu.

“The need for assistive devices will vary as per their conditions, hence, we will soon address it with teachers at special schools,” the official added.

The DGE did not respond despite multiple attempts.

Guidelines released by dept for the welfare of differently-abled persons

•A student must be given discretion of opting for their own scribe, reader or lab assistant.

•The examining body may also identify the scribe, reader and lab assistant to make panels at the district, division and State-level as per requirements

•If students are allowed to take exams on a computer, they should be allowed to check the computer a day before the exam to update the system.

•Use of own laptop should not be allowed but enabling accessories for the computer-based exam such as keyboard and customised mouse can be allowed

GV Oviya, a visually impaired girl is the first to use a laptop in Tamil Nadu to write both her Class 10 and 12 CBSE board exam in 2020 and 2022 respectively. Oviya has been practicing with a laptop from Class 3 and began using the gadget for exams from Class 7. “It’s easier to write exams on a laptop compared to any other assistance. Also, we can use a regular laptop and download software such as jaws application, which will help as screen reader and Non-Visual Desktop Access (NVDA).”

Different assistive devices will be required for different conditions. Children must be trained well in advance to use them efficiently in board exams

- Teacher of a government-aided special school

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