National Film Awardee Sudha Chandran, Former US President Franklin D Roosevelt and American author and activist Helen Keller have one thing in common- they all are "special people", more commonly known as physically challenged persons.
Delhi University has reserved 3% of seats for such students. Admission can be sought through special forms, available at Dean Students' Welfare. Says Dr Vij, Dean Students' Welfare, and "Student volunteers, counsellors and the faculty are making sure that physically challenged students face minimum hassles. From procurement of forms till their admission, we are taking care of it all. However, like any other undergraduate, they have to confront their own tribulations."
Talking computers, Braille embossing machines, modern chairs have been introduced to strongly propagate the message that physically challenged students are being welcomed in DU with open arms now. As Anjali Agarwal, Executive Director, Samarthyam, says, "There is no bias against such students nowadays. The central library at Arts faculty has books on every subject in Braille. New lab tables and lifts in every college are positive changes."
"My college shifted the Eco (Hons) classroom to the ground floor for me and another student who uses wheelchair," says Nipun Mahlotra, student, St Stephen.
Not only academics, these students are excelling in extra curricular too, with the university providing them all assistance. Events like cricket matches for blinds, rangoli making, debating, poetry competitions etc are frequently organised. The fact that Nipun is an active member of three societies in his college speaks for itself.
However, the university does need to improvise on a few aspects. Anjali feels there is a need for more manpower in terms of sign interpretators, caretakers and further betterment of infrastructure.
As Priyanka Mahlotra, Nipun's mother ends the final note, "DU is no more a challenge now. It's more supportive and responsive to the needs of such students."