Court assigns 2 DU officials to help visually impaired students take final year exams
The Delhi High Court has ruled that visually impaired final year students of Delhi University (DU) cannot be exempted from taking their exams. It has said that DU officials must plan to ensure that the issues faced by blind students are addressed. There is another hearing in the matter scheduled for today.
Two Delhi University officials have been given the charge of ensuring that visually impaired students of Delhi University (DU) scheduled to take their final year exams this year do not face any barriers.
The Delhi High Court announced this while hearing a petition by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) challenging the DU’s Open Book Examination (OBE) scheme. The NFB said that the scheme is “against the principle of equality” and demanded that visually impaired students of DU be promoted based on their past performance.
The DU announced the open OBE for final year students on 14 May. The move has been criticised as disabled students are already struggling with online classes.
Open Book Exam scheme called unfair
In a statement, the NFB termed the university’s decision as insensitive towards people with visual impairments and said “The conduct of the exams through this mode by Delhi University has also completely ignored the fact that the blind and some other students would need a scribe to write their exam who will not be available in present scenario both because of the fear of life and adherence to social distancing norms”.
In a hearing on Friday, the Delhi High Court ruled exams will have to be held as the Bar Council of India is clear that law students passing final semesters without exams may not be recognised as having completed their education.
Holding exams in students’ interests, says court
“Similar prejudices may arise on account of decisions taken by other professional bodies. It is therefore felt that it is in the interests of visually impaired students in the final year/semester/term to participate in the examination process devised by the DU”, said the court.
However, court said DU must address specific concerns raised.
On non-availability of reading materials, it has asked DU to collaborate with NGO Saksham to ensure study materials are made available. The NFB said exams must be held a month after the material is made available to students.
Another idea discussed was sound recording of answers so availability of scribes is not an issue. The court has directed NFB and DU officials to discuss various solutions before the next hearing.
Sambhavna, an organisation of disabled students and teachers in DU, has also petitioned the University Grants Commission (UGC) to call off the final year exams.
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