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Madhya Pradesh gesture to promote inclusion gets a thumbs up

January 9, 2019

4 January marked the 110th birthday of Louis Braille, a visionary who introduced the Braille transcript. Centuries after its introduction, Braille is still one of the most popularly used transcripts by blind people. It has truly changed the lives of millions of blind people across the world.

Now, the Madhya Pradesh government is all set to bring something new to honour the transcript. The government's social justice department is introducing bi-script textbooks for children studying in class 1. The first set of Hindi Braille textbooks has already been printed at the Bhopal Braille Press.

These books will have both Braille and normal scripts so that blind students can also become part of classrooms along with children who do not have any disabilities. Madhya Pradesh government's this new gesture is welcomed with mixed reviews from experts and people from the disabled community.

This is indeed a great initiative by the Madhya Pradesh government. It is a good start to inclusion in school campuses. But I do not know how practical this is going to be. Mainly because students in classes 1 or 2 have no idea about what inclusion is since they are just infants. At the same time, it is great that the government has already implemented it instead of just putting it down in papers. I feel authorities must look into some other alternatives. For example, maybe some aspects of the curriculum must be in provided in Braille instead of an entire textbook - Amar Jain, Visually impaired lawyer

The idea of introducing these Braille textbooks was put forward by Krishna Mohan Tiwari, who is the Director of the Social Justice Department. Being a blind person, he knew what was needed to promote inclusion in school campuses. In fact, with introduction of these new textbooks, children without disabilities will become more aware of disabilities and struggles faced by disabled people on a daily basis. Madhya Pradesh government hopes that they are opening doors for more states to follow suit.

According to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, a certain quota is set aside for children with all kinds of disabilities in schools. Experts have often pointed out the impracticalities of it as well. But with baby steps, the RPWD act can be implemented without any hassles in the future. Introduction of bi-script textbooks is definitely one of them.

Lovepreet Singh is a visually impaired music teacher at the government school at Jalandhar in Punjab. He is also one of the key designers of the app TechWorld that reaches out to visually impaired people.

"I believe that this new initiative is going to promote inclusive education. Now, students can easily study in normal schools. Even though it started off in Madhya Pradesh, I feel this must be implemented school curriculum of all states across India", says Lovepreet.

The textbooks come at a price. The master copy will be charged Rs 40 and the subsequent pages will be charged Rs 2 each.

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