Education is a strong word with an equally strong importance, it is the key to a nation’s progress. It must be treated as a birthright of every individual as it plays a crucial role in their lives. Literacy rate determines the person’s ability to read and write but does not gauge the education levels. According to the 2011 census*, the literacy rate varies from one state to another with it being the highest (93.91%) in Kerala and the lowest (63%) in Bihar. Rajasthan has the lowest female literacy rate of 52.66% where Bihar is just behind at 53.33%. Though the 2011 census marks a commendable increase in the literacy rates when compared to that of 2001, it is not as promising to the persons with disabilities in India.
Easy access to education concerning the persons with disabilities is a major step which many educational institutions and organizations do not give prominence to. Considering the needs of the physically-challenged and differentially-abled individuals is essential to skyrocket the literacy rate in India where only 55% of the 2.68 Crore persons with disabilities are literate.
A very few nonprofit organizations like Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled have come up with certain initiatives for providing accessible education to persons with disabilities. They have numerous free residential and special schools across fifteen Indian cities. The organization supports inclusive education and believes in the concept of barrier-free education. In fact, they are very soon coming up with barrier-free residential schools.
The aim is to make quality education accessible to not just children with disabilities but also to the ones from the underprivileged and underserved communities. They also provide financial and hostel aids to students seeking higher education. The NGO ensures that the persons with disabilities (PWDs) who want to study further are enrolled in colleges encouraging inclusive education where the organization covers all the expenses like fee, study material, boarding facilities, etc.
In their very residential schools, inclusive education is encouraged which allows the disabled children to mingle with the regular students. The visually-impaired students rely on Braille books, and the nonprofit has started another initiative in collaboration with Daisy Forum India. They now have their very own digital studio and library where the print media is transcribed into audio format. They believe that with this initiative, they can make higher education accessible to the visually-impaired students.
Samarthanam trains the visually-impaired students to use the screen reader software like Job Access with Speech (JAWS) to make them technology savvy to pursue higher education. In fact, the first visually-impaired chartered accountant is a pupil of the NGO.
To contribute to the cause; CSR activities to transcribe the print media into audio format; sponsoring the education of a disabled student, or to know more click here