Towards inclusive education

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News: Recently, the draft accessibility guidelines and standards for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Universities were released by the Universities Grants Commission (UGC).

How can the guidelines be further improved

Correction of Procedural flaw: The public notice preceding the guidelines was inaccessible to persons with visual disabilities. The document was poorly scanned, instead a digital document would have been fully accessible.

The guidelines have a wide scope but can be more realistic. Each chapter of the guidelines can be followed by a checklist that distils the key action items contained in that chapter. Checklist can divide these items into ‘immediately implemented’ and those which can be ‘implemented progressively’.

Powers to UGC with regards to checklist should be given: UGC should monitor such compliance of HEIs with the checklist. It should also be empowered to take disciplinary action in case of non-compliance.

Requirement of assessment of disability based needs
  • An annual or biannual assessment should be conducted of persons with diverse disabilities. This can equip the institution to take specific need based intervention.
  • Each HEI should maintain data of students with disabilities. It should contain information regarding application, enrollment, retention, participation of students in academic and non-academic activities.
Grievance redressal mechanism
  • Provision should be provided for redressal along the lines of Rights of Person with Disabilities Rules, 2017.
  • District Education Officers can be empowered to deal with any violations by the HEIs.
  • Provisions of time-bound redressal of complaints can be provided.

For disabled, high quality education can lead to meaningful participation in society. If modified suitably, these guidelines can serve as a catalyst towards an inclusive society.

Source: This post is created based on the article “Towards inclusive education” published in The Hindu on 17th March 2022.

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