Venkatesh Prabhu, 18, a visually challenged Class 12 student of Ruia College in Matunga, listens to tapes of recorded lectures every day for ten hours.
Prabhu scored 82% in Class 10 and is keen to better that in his Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exam this year. From coordinating with his writer to memorising his lessons, Prabhu is anxious like his peers. He will be among the 1045 visually impaired students taking the HSC exam this year. Last year, the figure was 849.
This year, the number of students in the other differently-abled categories — such as those with learning disabilities, spastics, deaf, dumb and autistic — taking the Class 10 and Class 12 exams has risen too. The SSC exams begin on March 1 and the HSC exams on February 21.
The Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) says the number of students who have applied for concessions given to the differently-abled have increased by 15% (Class 10) and 29% (Class 12) compared to last year.
“We train teachers to help students get concession certificates. We want more students to benefit from the concessions,” said Sarjerao Jahdhav, chairman, MSBSHSE.
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has also introduced concessions for visually impaired students that will be implemented from the 2013 academic year. Visually impaired students of Class 11 and Class 12 will not appear for practical examinations. Instead, they will attempt 25 marks multiple-choice questions.
Dr Samir Dalwai, developmental pediatrician of Sion Hospital, says earlier, social stigma would hold families back from letting children with disabilities to be part of the mainstream. “But with awareness, things have changed drastically,” he said.