As students with disability who have completed Class XII get set to join colleges, particularly aided and self-financing institutions, they encounter several barriers in the admission process.

S. Aruna, a student from Kovalam, has partial visual impairment. She has applied to two city colleges. “I have applied to these two colleges only since I was told that there is hardly any chance of getting admissions in the other colleges,” she says.

Under the quota available for the physically-challenged students, three per cent of the seats in colleges have been reserved. But it is yet to be enforced stringently in the government-aided and self-financing colleges, says S. Namburajan of Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of all Types of Differently Abled and Caregivers.

Some colleges that have brought out a merit list of those short-listed for admissions have names of students who are eligible for admissions under the SC/ST, MBC/ DNC and BC categories, but the ‘physically handicapped' category has been omitted.

The merit list is displayed outside colleges and once the institutions bring out the final list, they are required to send it to the Directorate of Collegiate Education.

“We issue circulars to the colleges prior to admissions and in case of any discrepancies we immediately look into it. However, it is difficult for the directorate to check if each and every college is following the direction,” says R. Umarani, Director of Collegiate Education.

Colleges have to do their bit and also raise awareness, for some students are not even aware of the existence of such a quota for persons with disability.

“Many students who have no form of physical impairment choose the ‘differently-abled' option, assuming that it means ‘someone who possesses different abilities.' But the incidence of such a blunder has reduced to a great extent this year,” says M.Thavamani, Principal, Ethiraj College for Women.

And for students with disability, merely obtaining admissions does not put an end to their problems.

“Most of our students apply to government colleges, where they are immediately given admissions. But there are no interpreters there, so our students have to manage on their own. They attend special classes or seek help from outside. Even this is difficult in aided institutions that hesitate to give admissions to our students” says Sr. Vasanthi Mary Brinda, Principal, Little Flower Convent Higher Secondary School for the hearing impaired.

The hearing impaired students generally opt for B. Com, B.Sc. Maths and B.Sc. Computer Science, she adds.

Additional certificate

While the National Disability Identity Card issued by the Department for the Welfare of Differently Abled Persons is said to be a valid document certifying a candidate's disability, some colleges insist on an additional medical certificate.

“The ID that has been issued by the department is a legitimate document and being asked to submit more documents is unnecessary,” says Mr. Namburajan.