Times Of India
25 Nov 2012
Setting it write for blind examinees, volunteers step up
After Mirror report highlighted the desperation of visually impaired students in finding writers for upcoming UoP exams, homemakers, students offer help
Finally, with just 48 hours left for his second-year BA examination to get underway, Kunal Bhalerao can concentrate on studying alone. Till Sunday, the visually challenged 25-year-old from Pimple Gurav was doing the rounds of city colleges searching for a writer but thanks to the efforts of concerned citizens and their networking, he has a writer now.
Santosh Ramamurthy, 23, a resident of Baner road and in his final year of computer science at the PVG College of Engineering and Technology stepped forward with a plan in place. "Right after I read the story of their plight in Pune Mirror, I decided to help. But I soon realised that it couldn’t be a single-person initiative, so I sent text messages to about 130 friends encouraging them to volunteer as writers. Of these, 30 responded with queries and and later, 20 confirmed. I have already put this list of 20 volunteer-writers toghether with their contact and education details," Ramamurthy said.
The volunteers on his list, he added, are not only offering service as writers but will also spend about three hours every day with these visually impaired students, helping them out.
As for Bhalerao, relief was writ large on his face. "Finally, I will be able to appear for the exams. I had nearly reached the point of breaking down and had thought that I would lose an academic year as I couldn’t find a writer," he smiled.
Chitra Vaidyeshwaran, 46, a homemaker from Wanowrie and Kothrud resident Bhavatharini Sundaram Iyer, 55, who teaches at St Mira’s School too found time to offer their services.
"I’m glad I can be of help to Bhalerao. Reading about social service had always set me thinking. Now, I want to see whether I can really go that extra mile and help someone. I want to test myself," said Vaidyeshwaran, adding that there is a need for systematic allotment of writers to visually impaired candidates.
"A nodal body needs to be set up to address not just the issue of writers but also other concerns like lack of accessibility, grievances, availability of course material in Braille or audio files, digital access to information. Presently, each college has a different arrangement. There needs to be centralization and Pune University needs to come out with a concrete policy. Also, this issue should be taken up by NGOs and social workers," Vaidyeshwaran stressed.
Iyer said, "I read about the condition of visually impaired students. As a teacher, I am very sensitive about the academic and psychological needs of children. My children are grown up, so I have time to spare from my daily schedule. If this works out, I will surely think of turning this into a bigger initiative and involve more people." Rupkumar Yadav, a final year MA (Marathi) student at Modern College, added, "I am overwhelmed to see so many people stepping forward to help students like me. I am indebted."
Professor Jayant Salve, Head of Department (English)and one of the coordinators of the Writers Club of Wadia College, said, "The students should confide in the college system. We run an active Writers Club and we are doing our job. There was no need for the students to panic unnecessarily and seek help outside college."