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With exams round the corner, visually impaired students struggle for scribes

Exams are round the corner in many parts of India, a time of anxiety and stress foe many students. For visually impaired students, there is the added tension of finding scribes. A scribe is someone who transcribes answers for visually impaired students during exams. Hence, they play an important role.

The good news is that over the past few years, authorities have been witnessing an increase in youngsters coming forward to become scribes. But authenticity is a concern. There may be people who are not very aware about the subject and can make factual errors. Some of them tend to avoid phrases and even sentences to do a quick job. Meanwhile others write unwanted details about the subject.

Over the past couple of years, the demand for professional and trained scribes is increasing. Since the government is not coming forward to make a change, NGOs and activists have taken this up. Recently, the Bangalore University started a community of scribes so they can reach out to more visually impaired students.

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. Acharya has written over 300 exams as scribe.

Over the past few years, many youngsters have been coming forward to become scribes. Housewives who are free at home used to come forward to help. There are many students who plan to go abroad and they come forward as scribes. For them, doing such services is an added advantage to their resume. I get at least five to ten calls every day where people tell me that they want to become scribes. There is a lot of awareness about the cause and it is spreading far and wide which is a great thing. -Pallavi Acharya, Scribe Co-ordinator

There is an increasing requirement to put forward strict guidelines when admitting a scribe. Sometimes visually impaired students find the right scribe, but they might not know the language in which the exams are to be written. There are many NGOs that work dedicatedly for the cause.

According to the law, there should also be flexibility in accommodating any change in scribe/reader/lab assistant in case of an emergency during exams. But sometimes, authorities also put down their foot to make things worse for the student.

Professor Ismath Afshan retired last month as Director of the Braille Resource Centre at Bangalore University.

"The dependency on institutionalised scribe has increased. Every year, more people are coming forward to become scribes. Similarly, even numbers of visually impaired people who take up exams are increasing each year and that is great", says Afshan.

If you are looking out for a scribe, contact Pallavi at 9611911335.

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



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