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Bangalore University starts scribes community for blind students

One of the biggest challenges faced by blind students is in taking exams. It is more or less a nightmare because of the lack of scribes to whom they can reach out. Most students depend on friends, relatives or volunteers. There have been numerous instances of scribes backing out in the last minute, which means losing an academic year.

The Bangalore University has stepped forward to offer a helping hand. The Braille Resource Centre here has started an exclusive scribes community to help blind students find a scribe.

This new initiative is great news for students here. Over 150 students from over 35 colleges have already enrolled for this facility.

Professor Ismath Afshan retired last month as director of the Braille Resource Center at Bangalore University.

This is a new venture that has just begun. So we have a long way to go. We have tied up with NGOs, activists and students from Bangalore University. We hope more blind and low vision students approach us. Hopefully, by the next semester, more students will benefit from the scribes community- Prof Ismath Afshan

Blind students point out that some of the scribes can become a deterrent to scoring good grades. While some don't write down what has been told by the students, others choose to skip a few questions or make grammatical errors.

Needless to say, one of biggest challenges is ensuring good quality. Hence, the centre is ensuring that they follow certain norms. One of them is that the scribe must be from a different discipline from that of the blind student. They must also have a lower qualification than the blind student. Even students from other places can avail of this facility.

Pallavi Acharya from Bengaluru has been working as a scribe co-ordinator for the past 13 years. She has even won the Karnataka Women's Achievers Award for her contribution towards the cause.

"There is a lack of awareness on guidelines for scribes. So even colleges and concerned authorities think that the guidelines issued in early 90's are still applicable. Most of them are unaware that new guidelines have been issued in 2013. In fact, most of the people even today are unaware of what a scribe does! That is the kind of lack of awareness we have around us. Over the years, blind students have undergone numerous problems due to lack of good scribes. Guidelines and awareness are the need of the hour", says Pallavi.

The Braille Resource Centre of Bangalore University was set up in the year 2012. Ever since then, they have been providing the best assistive technologies for blind students and those with low vision. They have exclusive Braille books, Braille Book Production Unit, Audio CD's, software and even a career placement cell for blind students. With nearly 200 blind students that reach out to them, the Centre has been doing a remarkable job for students. This new scribes community has added a golden feather to their cap.

For more details regarding getting a scribe, please contact Pallavi Acharya at 9611911335.

ALSO READ: Some tips for disabled students on using a scribe effectively

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