‘It’s unfair to students’

Malvika Iyer

Malvika Iyer  

Today, she’s a motivational speaker and disability rights activist based in the United States, but when Chennaiite Malvika Iyer was in school, there were many hurdles she had to overcome. “When I completed Class X, although I got a high score of 97%, I was asked by everyone around me to take up commerce and not science as I am physically challenged. This is unfair to students,” she said, in an online interview.

Barriers to access and inclusion in educational programmes, especially science and engineering, are some of the biggest challenges faced by students with disabilities, said the 28-year-old who finished her Class XII from Anna Adarsh School.

She eventually went on to do a Masters in Social Work from the Delhi School of Social Work and pursued her M. Phil and Ph. D from the Madras School of Social Work.

She also pointed out that there was a need for more trained instructors, for buildings to be disabled-friendly and for labs to have accessible instruments so the dreams of students with disabilities who would like to pursue science could be fulfilled.

Inter-agency approach

“When I was working with children with learning disabilities, I found that teachers are often unable or ill-equipped to understand their needs and requirements. We need to have an inter-agency approach and we need trained instructors, social workers, psychologists and occupational therapists in every department who can address the needs of students with disabilities,” she explained.

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