Visually impaired DU students move SC for cancellation of final year exams
A group of 15 visually impaired Delhi University students have challenged the Delhi University’s decision to conduct exams for their final year of graduation and post-graduation. The Supreme Court will hear the petition on Thursday.
Promote visually impaired final year undergraduate and post graduate students of Delhi University (DU) based on internal exams. That’s the demand of the over 400 visually impaired students in these courses that the Supreme Court will hear on Thursday.
They say they have been forced to petition the apex court as the DU has not responded adequately to repeated complaints. The DU has gone ahead with online exams from 10 to 31 August despite strong opposition from many students, disabled and non-disabled.
Visually impaired students struggle for scribes
Many visually impaired students were unable to take the exam on the first day as they could not find scribes or were unable to travel to Delhi at such short notice.
Like Preevi, a final year English (Honours) student at Miranda House.
“We were told that a scribe would be organised for us at the college, but this was conveyed to us on Saturday and the exam was on Monday”, says Preevi who is in Varanasi. “I could not travel to Delhi at such short notice. Flights are expensive and traveling by train is unsafe, especially for visually impaired people like me given the threat of the coronavirus infection”.
The DU is offering the option of taking the exams in September. “I can take the exam in September if my college offers boarding facilities”, adds Preevi. “It will be hard for me to organise a safe and hygienic place to stay at such short notice”.
Such stories, says Senior Advocate S K Rungta, appearing for the students, are universal. Mr Rungta had earlier filed a petition in the Delhi High Court on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) seeking effective mechanisms for visually impaired and physically disabled students for the online exam.
We are not challenging the applicability of the exam guidelines to visually impaired students. They don’t have the accessible reading materials, and this is something the High Court also noted. There are no assistive devices provided or scribes given. This violates principles of equality and despite several petitions, no orders have been given so far. – Senior Advocate S K Rungta, Lawyer, Visually impaired students
Fears of contracting virus
The High Court is scheduled to hear the matter later this month, which again leaves visually impaired students with little time to prepare for the exam in September. “They still don’t have the accessible reading materials and the court has given the DU more time. In the bargain, students are being made to run around”, adds Mr Rungta.
The only humane option, he says, is to assess the visually impaired students based on their internal exams. Preevi is among the hundreds of visually impaired students hoping the Supreme Court finds merit in the appeal.
“This situation is especially scary for visually impaired people like us”, she says. “We don’t know whether things will improve by September. If things normalise, we are happy to take the exam. That doesn’t look likely and in that case we ought to be promoted based on previous marks”.
Ayushi Sharma, a final year History (Honours) student at Miranda House, shares the view. Ayushi has been in Jammu since lockdown was declared.
“I came home for a week just before lockdown was declared and have been stuck here since with no way of accessing my study materials. I wrote many mails to the college dean, college principal and the DU Disability Nodal Officer Anil Aneja for help but have not heard from them”.
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