Accessibility December 21, 2020
Parents distraught over move to close down NIEPVD centres in Secunderabad & Kolkata
Parents and disability rights groups are speaking out against the move to close the Secunderabad and Kolkata chapters of the National Institute of Empowerment of Persons with Visual Disabilities. Tomorrow the West Bengal affiliate of the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled has called for protests in Kolkata.
Kolkata resident Shivani Gupta has been unable to sleep since she heard about the Centre’s decision move to close the Kolkata chapter of the National Institute of Empowerment of Persons with Visual Disabilities (NIEPVD).
Shivani’s daughter Aditi, who is visually impaired, has been attending classes at the centre for over four years. Last year over 3,500 students with visual impairments accessed the facilities here, many of them coming from rural Bengal.
“My daughter was born with a vision impairment and could not get admission into any regular school. The NIEPVD centre has been a godsend. Aditi has been going there since she was 2.5 years old”, says Shivani.
Poor students most affected
Shivani, who has a younger child, says she can take Aditi to the centre for just three days of the week given the distance. Even these limited sessions have transformed her daughter. “Aditi is an intelligent child who loves to know more about things. Where will she go now? We can’t afford private tutors and regular schools won’t enrol her”.
Ashtami Mandal’s six-year-old son Ankit is 100% blind. Born premature, Ankit lost his vision due to retinal detachment.
“The NIEPVD centre is far from my home”, says Ashtami. “I leave at noon and return home at 6 pm after classes. It’s a wonderful facility and the teachers are very good. I don’t know where I will go now”.
Families from ordinary socio-economic backgrounds like these will be the worst hit by the move to close the NIEPVD’s Secunderabad and Kolkata chapters. Their plight is being highlighted in a series of protests organised by the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) over the last few days.
Parents, activists hold protests
On Saturday the Vikalangula Hakkula Jathiya Vedika, the NPRD’s Telangana affiliate held a protest in Secunderabad.
On 22 December the NPRD’s West Bengal affiliate Paschimbanga Rajya Pratibandhi Sammilani (PRPS) has called for protests in Kolkata at 11 am.
The closure of these regional centres will impact not just students currently enrolled there but locks the door on all future students from the concerned regions. The shutting down of the centres will also adversely impact free distribution of aids and appliances under government schemes, which were being done through these chapters. – National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled
Shivani says she will be at the protest in Kolkata on Tuesday.
“My child has the desire to learn like anyone else. Just because she is blind, does she not deserve an opportunity?”, asks Shivani. “Mainstream schools either reject her or treat her as less than equal. I never got the chance to study but I am determined to make sure my daughters don’t lose out on that. No one can take that right away from them”.
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