Blind World Magazine

Loyola College starts resource centre for differently-abled.

January 17,2006.
Indian Catholic - New Delhi,India.

Chennai (ICNS) -- The Jesuit-run Loyola College here launched on Monday a resource centre to take care of the needs of its special students.

Envisaged as a model for higher learning institutions, the Resource Centre for the Differently-Abled will provide a variety of solutions to address the special needs of the 48 visually challenged students of the college.

It will also put in place a mechanism for mobilising voluntary services of the student community to serve the diverse needs of the special youth.

The college will run the centre in collaboration with Vidya Vrikshah, an organisation for the differently-abled.

In his keynote address, Madras University Vice-Chancellor S.P. Thyagarajan hailed the initiative as coming together of talent, dedication and commitment of an educational institution and a field-level organisation.

According to the latest data, there were 21.9 million differently abled persons in India, of whom 9.3 million were females. Nationwide, the concentration of special persons was greater in rural areas, with around 13 million.

However, the scenario was different in Tamil Nadu, where the male/female ratio as well as the urban/rural spread of the differently abled was more or less even, Thyagarajan said.

The UGC has two programmes to help special students in their higher learning pursuits Teacher Preparation in Special Education and Higher Education for Persons with Special Needs. Under the latter, a maximum grant of 1 million rupees is available.

The university has earmarked1.3 million rupees under three components to reach assistance to the differently abled students.

This comprised an information resource centre for guidance and counselling, access logistics that allowed free movement and special equipment acquisition.

The university has issued directives to affiliate institutions to implement programmes for the differently abled.

M. Anandakrishnan, chairman, Madras Institute of Development Studies, said while it was heartening that society was now assuming a participatory role in initiatives for the differently abled, a much more responsive attitude was required keeping in view the large numbers of special persons.

N. Krishnaswamy, chairman, Vidya Vriskhah, explained the objectives of the resource centre, an offshoot of the National Initiative for the Blind programme, launched by the organisation in 2003.

Loyola students Vikas Munoth and Akhilesh Malani, both visually impaired, gave a brief demonstration of `Jaws' software applications, while Raja along with his sighted peer Mohanansundaram showed why the Indian language software developed by IIT Madras bagged the President's medal for the best IT solution for the disabled last year.

Jaws' software versions were donated by U.S.-based NGO Anne Foundation, while the Katpadi-based Worth Trust donated five computer application kits.

College Principal Fr. A. Albert Muthumalai and Rector Fr. B. Jeyaraj also attended the function.

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