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Noida NGO helps 100 visually impaired students learn through online classes

By Shafaque Alam
PUBLISHED ON OCT 12, 2020 11:52 PM IST

Noida:

As schools remain closed due to the Covid lockdown, learning has become a difficult task for students, especially for visually impaired students. To overcome this problem, a Noida-based NGO is helping more than 100 visually impaired students continue the learning process through online classes.

The NGO – Saksham Resource Centre – has also provided laptops and mobile phones to students to enable them to join online classes from home.

Brij Bartwal, principal of Saksham, located in Noida Sector 51, said the lockdown had stopped the teaching and counselling of students in March.

“We had over 100 special students and they stopped coming for classes. Some of them returned to their native places in Bihar, Bengal and other states with their parents after the coronavirus outbreak. This badly affected their studies,” she said. The officials then held a meeting with NGO management and decided to launch online classes.

The NGO, which works for inclusive education with assistive technology for the visually impaired students free of cost, provided mobile phones to 14 students and laptops to six students. Other students had managed mobile phones on their own.

“We provide education using sign language and braille to children. We provide computer classes for them using a special software, Non Visual Desktop Access (NVDA), which allows blind and vision impaired people to access and interact with Windows. Physiotherapy and occupational therapy sessions, and life-skills training programmes, are also held to make them self-reliant,” she said.

The NGO first resumed classes on WhatsApp video call. “Later, we shifted to Microsoft Teams, which facilitates recording of live lectures, and joining of multiple persons in the group,” Bartwal said. The online classes have helped the students immensely.

The resource centre caters to children in the age group of six months to 20 years. It has 25 teaching staff and 15 non teaching staff. It runs batches in two shifts 9 am – 2.30 pm and 2.30 pm to 5 pm. The students attending regular schools join the second shift while others join the first shift.

“We get students mostly from the villages belonging to the low income group. We sometimes recharge their mobile phone internet bills to ensure they join online classes,” she said. The NGO is supported by different companies through their CSR initiatives.

Suraj Thapa, a class VI student in a private school in Noida Sector 27, has been associated with Saksham for over six years. “I have learnt braille and computer basics at the NGO. I study in a private school with normal students. Saksham has empowered me. It has a conducive learning environment for blind students,” he said. Suraj lives with his mother, who is single parent, in Hoshiyarpur village.

Saksham was founded by Dipendra Manocha and Rummi K Seth in Delhi in 2003 and the Noida centre was started in 2006. The school provides free education to students. So far it has trained over 500 special students.

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