Panel suggests including Indian Sign Language as a subject in schools
A panel has suggested including Indian Sign Language as a subject, offering Braille as a language option and providing various difficulty levels of core subjects for students with special needs as part of curriculum and examination reforms.
These are among key recommendations made by a group of representatives from various examination boards, advocates, parents, disabled students, experts in the field who carried out extensive brainstorming in Delhi.
According to a CBSE official who was part of the discussions, the recommendations have been placed before the Punjab and Haryana high court which, in February, asked the board to see what facilities could be extended to students with disabilities under the revised Persons with Disabilities (PwD) Act.
The board will now work on these recommendations and see how they can be implemented. The recommendations will cover all the major examination boards.
The group has also suggested allowing calculators to students who are victims of acid attacks, those with dwarfism and those afflicted by muscular dystrophy to help them in examinations.
The CBSE official, who asked not to be identified, added that the group has recommended that Sign Language be recognised as a subject in lieu of a second language.
“... Indian Sign Language should be treated as language to satisfy the formula prescribed by the board. On similar lines, Braille can also be offered as a language option,” reads the recommendation of the group.
“Various levels of core subjects such as Mathematics, Science and Social Studies can be offered at two/three levels of difficulty. Different combinations of subjects can be developed, which matches the schemes of the studies at the senior secondary,” it further states.
The National Curriculum Framework 2005 also has a provision that subjects such as Mathematics and English can be examined at two levels, standard and higher. It adds that eventually, all subjects may be offered at two levels in a phased manner.
The group’s recommendations, which have been seen by Hindustan Times, state that access to information creates opportunities for everyone in society and suggest that school websites be in “accessible formats” with “features like large font (size), speech to text (facility), contrast colour scheme, search option etc”. It also says “assignments and the question paper developed in school must be provided in accessible formats”.
It also pitches for providing flexible opportunities for assessment wherein students should get an opportunity to demonstrate their learning in multiple ways that include visual and oral presentation, rather than only written assessment: “CBSE has recently allowed children with disabilities to give board’s examination through computers. The same can be extended with providing question paper online with audio links. This will not only assist the students for reading/listening the question paper but will also provide little bit of explanation to questions. A headphone can be provided to the students. This facility will be very useful in cases of children with Autism Spectrum disorder and with low cognitive abilities. Children with hard of hearing and low vision will also benefit.”
“These are good suggestions and measures that have been suggested by the panel which will help students with disabilities in coping with regular schooling. There is always scope for more” said Stuti Kacker, former secretary , Disability Affairs, in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and currently the chairperson of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).