The UGC has issued guidelines to higher educational institutions across the country to ensure the seamless inclusion of learners with various forms of disabilities—physical or mental.
The ‘Accessibility Guidelines and Standards for Higher Education Institutions and Universities’ calls upon universities and colleges to develop effective accessible mechanisms for persons with disabilities covering every stage, from admissions to the completion of courses.
The guidelines, issued by the University Grants Commission on July 4, are in tune with the prescription made in the National Education Policy, 2020 (NEP) that students from socio-economically disadvantaged groups, including persons with disabilities, need support to make an effective transition to higher education.
“Inclusive practices in education ensure quality education without discrimination to any learner… It should result in removing barriers by bringing necessary changes in infrastructure, curriculum, teaching-learning process, and all such components for equal and quality participation in both academic and social aspects of campus life,” said UGC chairperson Prof M Jagadesh Kumar.
The 126-page report containing the guidelines stresses that accessibility considerations must cover “all aspects of assuring that persons with disabilities can participate and have the same choices as their typical peers.” “It must be ensured to remove any barrier that stops, impedes, prevents or causes difficulty for an individual to fully participate in all aspects of higher education,” it observes.
The guidelines are strikingly specific in nature. For instance, seeking to address a learning disorder like dyslexia, the guidelines state, “While giving an MCQ test requiring a, b, c, d answers, use capital letters and ask students to give answers as A, B, C, D to avoid confusion of b and d that may look alike to a student having a specific learning disability.”
Among more such recommendations include the one listed against examples of support for mental illness: “Preferential seating arrangement (for students) (near or door or at the back of the classroom). In the case of possible ways to support students with autism spectrum disorder, it states, “Allow students to focus on parts of a topic/project; rather than the entire concept.”
The guidelines also underline that all higher educational institutes need to have “accessible unisex toilet available at all strategic locations wherever the washrooms for both genders are also made available.”
The guidelines recommend that authorities should also explore options such as course waivers or substitutions or provide the option of reduced course load based on needs; be flexible with attendance, and schedule; allow the use of assistive aids and technology. The Supreme Court had in January directed the UGC to frame these guidelines within eight weeks.
Courtesy : The Indian Express