Initiative will take care of needs of the students in collaboration with Vidya Vrikshah
Will put in place a mechanism for mobilising voluntary services of studentsMadras University to contribute Rs. 13 lakh under three components Initiative a coming together of talent, dedication and commitment: Vice Chancellor
CHENNAI: Loyola College on Monday launched a resource centre to take care of the needs of its special students in collaboration with Vidya Vrikshah, an organisation for the differently-abled.
Envisaged as a model for higher learning institutions elsewhere, the Resource Centre for the Differently-Abled will provide a full range of solutions to address the special needs of the 48 visually challenged students of the college. It will also put in place a mechanism for mobilising voluntary services of the student community to serve the diverse needs of the special youth.
In his keynote address, S.P. Thyagarajan, Vice-Chancellor, Madras University, said the initiative was as much a partnership of an educational institution and a field-level organisation as a coming together of talent, dedication and commitment.
According to the latest data, there were 21.9 million differently abled persons in India, of whom 9.3 million were female. Nationwide, the concentration of special persons was greater in rural areas, with around 13 million. However, the scenario was different in Tamil Nadu, where the male/female ratio as well as the urban/rural spread of the differently abled was more or less even, Dr. Thyagarajan said.
The UGC had two programmes to help special students in their higher learning pursuits - Teacher Preparation in Special Education and Higher Education for Persons with Special Needs. Under the latter, a maximum grant of Rs. 10 lakh was available.
The university had earmarked Rs. 13 lakh under three components to reach assistance to the differently abled students.
This comprised an information resource centre for guidance and counselling, access logistics that allowed free movement and special equipment acquisition. It had issued directives to affiliate institutions to implement programmes for the differently abled.
M. Anandakrishnan, chairman, Madras Institute of Development Studies, said while it was heartening that society was now assuming a participatory role in initiatives for the differently abled, a much more responsive attitude was required keeping in view the large numbers of special persons.
N. Krishnaswamy, chairman, Vidya Vriskhah, explained the objectives of the resource centre, an offshoot of the National Initiative for the Blind programme, launched by the organisation in 2003.
Loyola students Vikas Munoth and Akhilesh Malani, both visually impaired, gave a brief demonstration of 'Jaws' software applications, while Raja along with his sighted peer Mohanansundaram showed why the Indian language software developed by IIT Madras bagged the President's medal for the best IT solution for the disabled last year. "Jaws' software versions were donated by U.S.-based NGO Anne Foundation, while the Katpadi-based Worth Trust donated five computer application kits.
A. Albert Muthumalai, principal, Loyola College, B. Jeyaraj, Rector, Anne Mohideen of Anne Foundation and T. Eugine, director, Students Service Centre at the college, participated.