With more than 1,500 seats on offer, Delhi University and its affiliated colleges are doing all they can to encourage physically challenged students to enroll.
Many DU colleges, including Khalsa, Miranda House, Sri Ram College of Commerce, Hindu, Gargi, Kamla Nehru, Janki Devi Memorial college and Lady Sri Ram College are ready to welcome their special students with lifts, ramps, specially designed toilets and libraries equipped with resources.
In 2008, DU was able to fill a mere 386 of its 1,500 seats.
“We are aiming towards a completely disabled friendly campus and have laid down tactile paths to enable visually impaired to move around independently,” said Jaswinder Singh, principal of SGTB Khalsa College.
“There is a lift, specially designed ramps and special toilets to ensure mobility of the orthopedically challenged students,” he said.
At Miranda House, there is a special section in the library containing Braille books and talking computers, which serve as a resource centre for visually challenged students.
The railings at Kamla Nehru College are being painted red for the benefit of the partially blind.
“We are also putting up signage in Braille throughout our campus for their hassle free movement,” said Asha Kohli, co-ordinator for admissions.
The university also has in place a central Braille library with screen readers, magnifiers and special softwares that assist the visually impaired students. But there is still scope for improvement.
“There are enough books for graduate courses. However, at the masters level course material in Braille is scantily available,” said Vaibhav Durga, a visually impaired student pursuing MA Political Science from the School of Open Learning.
Delhi University’s Equal Opportunity Cell (EOC) has been working on programmes to make the university experience truly enriching for physically challenged students.
“Our primary objective is to create a barrier free environment for the physically disabled so the university becomes completely accessible for them,” said Nisha Singh, officer on special duty at EOC.
“We have provided all colleges with recommendations to adapt campuses to meet the special needs of these students.”
But hostel facility, that tops the priority of the disabled, is not available in most colleges. While physically challenged can get admission on the basis of reservation, special facilities like toilets or ground floor room are mostly not available.
“Staying on campus is very important for students like me. Staying in the hostel gave me a chance to realise my potential as I got opportunities to participate in co- curricular activities and I was not limited by my disability,” said Nitesh Kumar, a second year hosteller of SRCC with 90 per cent disability.
But more and more colleges are becoming sensitive to the needs of the disabled.
“We have tried to make the application process more comfortable and hope to fill as many seats as possible,” said Seema M Parihar, Deputy Dean (Students Welfare).