Education July 18, 2020
GV Oviya makes history as 1st visually impaired girl to write TN CBSE class 10 exam independently
G V Oviya from Tamil Nadu has made history in this year’s CBSE class 10 board exams. She is the first visually impaired girl in the state to take the exam independently using the support of technology. Here’s her story.
Late vision loss, father’s frequent job transfers and lack of accessible textbooks. The challenges G V Oviya has overcome to score 89.4% in the class 10 CBSE board exams are truly incredible.
Oviya, a student of Jawahar Higher Secondary School in Neyveli has made history as the first visually impaired girl to write the board exam independently using a computer and other technologies. Oviya started losing her vision when she was in class one.
“Oviya has Retinitis Pigmentosa and at that time no mainstream schools would enrol her”, says her father, Vijay Raj, who works with Neyveli Lignite Corporation Limited. “I was transferred frequently, and she has to change many schools in the early years which was hard for her.
Lost sight due to Retinitis Pigmentosa
Vijay credits his wife Kokila for supporting Oviya in those critical years. “My wife would support her with the schoolwork, typing out her notes and writing them in big bold letters at home so she would understand”. Until class 6, Oviya was able to write the answers on her own. After that she lost vision completely.
From class 3, while she had partial vision, Oviya started practising on the laptop at home. When we heard that the CBSE had launched certain facilities for students with disabilities, we enrolled her at Jawahar High Secondary School. The school supported her by allowing Oviya to take exams with the help of a computer. By class 9 she was very comfortable using one. – Vijay Raj, Oviya’s father
Lack of awareness about accessible tools made certain subjects like math harder. “We did not know about these tools and I developed my own method of assigning specific symbols for things like square roots, equations”, says Vijay. Access to tactile textbooks finally came in class 9 thanks to the Raised Line Foundation, the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi initiative which converts textbooks into accessible material. “Until then I would make the diagrams for her with wool, thread, matchsticks and stones”, says Kokila. “I would like to tell parents of other visually impaired children to use such materials from early on”.
Plans to study commerce
Math and science are Oviya’s favourite subjects and she plans to take up commerce for further studies. She also loves to sing devotional songs and is a good orator in Tamil.
Oviya says she is happy with her result and wants to pursue commerce in the future. “I would like to tell other visually impaired students to use technology and study. I used JAWS and NVDA for support and that has helped me a lot”.
Kalpana Rao, Principal, Vidya Sagar, a school for children with cerebral palsy and other neurological disabilities in Chennai, is happy for Oviya. Vidya Sagar students have been taking the board exams in Tamil Nadu using computers for many years now.
“Our students typically take the state board or NIOS exams and many of them have used computers successfully. The fact that the CBSE is also open to the idea is welcome news as it opens doors for many other students with disabilities when it comes to career options. This is a good and positive step”.
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