Finding a scribe during exams a serious challenge for blind students
Exams are stressful for everyone. For blind students there is the added burden of looking for a scribe.
While there are more volunteers stepping forward to offer their services as scribes, the quality is not always up to the mark. There are issues with punctuality and adequate knowledge about subjects they are going to write about. This leaves blind students facing the consequences.
Some scribes choose to write short sentences and summarize the answers, instead of giving the details that the blind candidate has mentioned. Some turn up late for the exams.
Nethrodaya, which runs an NGO, school and college for blind students in Chennai, is helping to address this problem. C Govindakrishnan, the founder, says that the Tamil Nadu government helps to ensure that blind students get good scribes. Each scribe is paid Rs 500 for taking a college exam and Rs 350 for a school exam. This ensures that good people come forward.
The Madras High Court has stated that scribes have to be appointed as per government guidelines. This has helped ensure that qualified scribes come forward, which is a much needed change. It is important that they are educated and know what they are writing down. A blind person must not lose their marks because of the scribe's mistake because it affects their academic prospects. Both time and accountability is crucial - C Govindakrishnan, Founder, Nethrodaya.
Experts say that scribes must be given orientation sessions before an exam. They must have a good idea of what they are writing about.
For over 10 years now, Pallavi Acharya from Bengaluru, has been helping blind students access quality scribes. She says there is greater awareness now and that getting a qualified scribe is not the challenge it used to be.
"We now get scribes who appear on time at exam halls on time and write the answers down properly. This is not a regular voluntary activity. It is all about responsibility. Awareness about this is very important. Many people do not even know about the need and relevance of scribes. For a scribe, it is just a matter of writing for three hours. For the blind student, it is all about their future", says Pallavi.
A good scribe can make a significant difference to the future of a person. It's a role that requires commitment, sincerity and diligence.