Delhi University works to enable the disabled

July 28th, 2010 - 4:31 pm ICT by IANS  

By Rahul Vaishnavi
New Delhi, July 28 (IANS) Delhi University is pulling out all stops to woo disabled students as it sets up dedicated buses, parking slots, scanners to convert books into the audio format, special computers, ramps and elevators.

The varsity, which opened July 21, reserved 1,600 seats for the physially challenged this year, though only 400 of these were filled up. Despite the lukewarm response, colleges are preparing to offer various facilities.

“We have a special cell for them called the ‘Equal Opportunity Cell’. Dedicated buses, special computers for the visually impaired and ramps for the orthopaedically challenged are some of the amenities,” S.K. Vij, dean of student welfare, told IANS.

According to Vij, the varsity also organises games and cultural festivals from time to time to encourage disabled students, but there is not enough motivation earlier at the school level.

The leading varsity has nearly 80 colleges. A visit to a few of them in the north campus revealed genuine efforts by some to help the disabled.

Sanjeev Grewal, coordinator of the enabling unit for the physically challenged at St. Stephen’s College, said since last year the institution has been providing a lot of facilities and this year there would be more.

“We are building a separate room in the library with five computers that have ‘Job Access With Speech’ (JAWS) software, specially designed for the visually impaired,” he said.

“We are building more ramps and designated parking slots for them. We also organise interactions between the physically disabled and the people actively working for them,” said Grewal.

“We will be creating special tactile paths for wheelchair-bound students. Braille markers and signages for the visually impaired will be put up. Special toilets for the disabled are also in the pipeline, he said.

“Like all other colleges, there is paucity of funds. Hence these are mere proposals as of now. But we did get a small grant from the University Grants Commission and we are installing the ‘Zoomex’ scanners for the visually impaired. It scans a book, converts it into a digital format and reconverts it into audio format,” he added.

A lot of work has also been done at SGBT Khalsa College where the premises have been renovated with a major emphasis on being disabled-friendly.

“Ours is the only college that is fully disabled-friendly. Just like our science department, the arts and commerce departments are also getting a lift which will be ready in the next six months. There is a special toilet for the disabled,” said Khalsa College principal Jaswinder Singh.

Ramjas College and Hindu College are, however, among the institutions that are yet to cater properly to the needs of the disabled.

“The class and hostel rooms are provided on the ground floor to such students…at present our college is partially disabled-friendly. We have asked for a financial grant from the UGC for installation of lifts and other amenities. We make sure that we are sympathetic towards them,” said Ramjas College vice principal Rajrani Goyal.

Some college officials blame paucity of funds for the delay in equipping their institutions with facilities for the disabled.

Hindu College principal V.K. Srivastava said: “We are going to expand the library with a Braille section…an additional building is also coming up and all this will be done within a year.”

“We are waiting for funds from the UGC, but work has already started in our canteen and the hostel,” he said.

Disabled students feel more needs to be done.

“As of now the situation is pathetic in the campus as all roads are dug up and there is so much traffic. If a visually impaired man like me wants to come here on his own, it is just impossible,” said Ramesh Sahni, a student of Hindi honours in Ramjas College.

“The facilities in colleges are average. There are shortcomings and we are still adjusting according to them. Ideally, it should be the colleges that change according to our needs,” he said.

(Rahul Vaishnavi can be contacted at

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