Nitin Patil wants to be a hardware engineer. And nothing can deter this 18-year-old son of a security guard who is visually impaired. A student of Class 12 at SIES College, Patil is determined to see his dreams come through. By the way, he is also learning computers part-time.
Like him, many visually impaired (VI) students have set their sights on higher education and lucrative careers - no more phone booths, lift operation or basket making. And, fortunately, colleges are going out of their way to help them.
Ramnarain Ruia College was the first to set up the ‘Centre for Visually Impaired' seven years ago. It has 20 Braille typewriters and seven specially designed computers. "We also have an option where students can give their own exams in Braille and teachers cor rect the English version of the paper that is automatically produced," said Ruia Principal Suhas Ped nekar.
St Xavier's set up its resource centre three years ago. The number of VI stu dents has doubled since then, says Principal Frazer Mascarenhas.
While there are no government freeships for disabled students (as for economically and socially backward categories), college managements have come up with innovative schemes. SIES College not only provides free tuition, but also free textbooks and lunch. At Ruia, thanks to the ‘Each One Adopt One' scheme, almost 80 per cent of the students have 100 per cent funding. Ruia and SIES also admit students from Marathi medium schools.
Interestingly, most of these students get admissions on merit basis. "There is two per cent reservation for disabled students, but most of them get in through merit. They have respectable SSC scores," said SIES College Principal Harsha Mehta.