Tamil Nadu

Visually impaired students have difficulty in finding scribes

Visually impaired college students struggle to find scribes to help them write their exams. A fortnight ago a message was doing the rounds in social media appealing for scribes. The appeal had come from a city college which has nearly 100 blind students in the undergraduate programme.

“For the past two years there were no exams. We were able to get research scholars to pitch in. Usually M Phil students would offer but now that the course has been withdrawn we don’t have that resource,” said V. Sivaraman, associate professor, Department of English, Presidency College.

The institution has 94 visually impaired students in four undergraduate departments, including Tamil, English, Political Science and History. There is also a student with cerebral palsy and another orthopaedically disadvantaged person who require a scribe. Every semester, arranging for scribes is a difficult task. The pandemic has exacerbated the issue, Mr. Saravanan explained. “Except for around 15-20 students the rest require scribes who can write in Tamil whereas 90% of the scribes are comfortable in writing in English,” he said.

The College has allocated a sum from the fees paid by sighted students and scribes are paid ₹100 per sitting, whereas a scribe for a public exam under school education department is paid ₹300, Mr. Saravanan, also visually impaired, said.

“We want the State government to provide for a scribe allowance. This could be done by the Department of the Differently Abled. It could work in tandem with the Higher Education Department and create a database of scribes as in the city apart from us only Queen Mary’s College and Nandanam Arts College have blind students. Also this would prevent having to send back volunteers who respond to our appeals. Without public cooperation we could never conduct the exam,” he pointed out.

He suggests that in the portal for scribes the exam time table be uploaded a fortnight prior to the exam.

A graduate from St. John’s College in Tirunelveli also had a similar take. The College currently has 17 students requiring scribes. “We have difficulty in finding scribes as we cannot bring our own scribe. Besides the same person would not volunteer daily. Also, they must be sensitised to our requirements. We are looking for a solution,” he added.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2022 3:39:05 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/visually-impaired-students-have-difficulty-in-finding-scribes/article65582746.ece