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Education of Visually Impaired Girl Child through Distance Mode

12:00 AM Mar 08, 2024 IST | Dr. Showkat Rashid Wani
education of visually impaired girl child through distance mode

In downtown area of Fateh Kadal there lived a girl named Maryam. From a young age, Maryam had a thirst for knowledge that burned bright within her. However, her path to education was not an easy one, for Maryam was born visually impaired. Born into a family of limited means, Maryam faced many challenges in accessing the education she desired.


While her parents supported her dreams, they struggled to find suitable school equipped to cater to her special needs. Many schools turned her away, citing their inability to accommodate visually impaired students. Maryam attended a local public school where she hoped to learn, make friends, and participate in various activities just like any other student. However, her experience at school was far from what she had imagined.


From the moment she entered the school gates, Maryam felt the weight of judgment and discrimination from her peers. At first, Maryam tried to ignore the whispers and gazes, focusing on her studies and trying to make friends.

However, the other students seemed hesitant to approach her, and she often found herself sitting alone during lunch breaks and class activities. Despite her efforts to join in, Maryam was repeatedly excluded from group projects and social events, with some classmates openly expressing discomfort around her disability.


As days turned into weeks, Maryam’s optimism began to vanish, replaced by a deep sense of isolation and loneliness. The constant stares, whispers, and exclusion took a toll on her self-esteem, leaving her feeling invisible and contemptible. Despite her best efforts to remain positive, Maryam found herself fearing each day at school, longing for acceptance and understanding.


Even worse than the peer ostracism was the lack of support from some teachers and staff members.  Despite the challenges she faced, Maryam refused to let the stigma and discrimination define her. With the unwavering support of her family and a few compassionate teachers, Maryam found the strength to speak up and advocate for herself. Maryam’s determination and resilience bore fruit as she worked twice as hard as her peers to excel in her academic pursuits.


Outside the classroom, Maryam faced additional hurdles. Navigating the busy streets without sight was a daunting task, and she often relied on the kindness of strangers to help her reach her destination. Despite physical and emotional set-backs, Maryam remained steadfast in her pursuit of education.


As Maryam progressed through school, she became a vocal advocate for the rights of visually impaired individuals. She spoke out against discrimination and fought for better resources and support for students with disabilities. Her courage and determination inspired others to join her cause, sparking a movement for inclusive education in the city.

Despite the odds stacked against her, Maryam’s resilience and unwavering determination propelled her way forward. With each obstacle she overcame, she grew stronger and more determined to make a difference. After completing her graduation, she applied for the BEd programme through Directorate of Distance Education University of Kashmir.

Special Cell of the University had consolidated the list of all physically challenged candidates who had applied for BEd programme through Distance Mode on the directions of Prof Nilofer Khan then Dean Students Welfare of the University. She took personal pains in providing excellent administrative-support-services to these physically challenged enrolled learners which can be gauged from  the fact that maximum learners from this marginalized group completed their degrees successfully with insignificant drop-out rate.

Special Cell of the University served as a Single Window Information Student Services (SWISS) for these marginalized learners. As Coordinator I provided supplementary reading material in summarized audio form to Maryam which facilitated her learning.

I sensed that it is very difficult for her to move to second floor for attending contact classes at Amar Singh College. I directed the liaison officer to shift the contact classes to the ground floor so that the girl is facilitated. She attended the contact classes religiously and did not ask for relaxation.

She used to record the lectures of resource persons on an audio-device which was gifted to her by her classmates. They were very empathetic towards her and placed her within the nucleus of the group. They shared lunch, notes and facilitated her in submitting forms.

During her journey she faced another barrier. None of the schools was accepting her for internship and practice of teaching. Prof Nilofer Khan directed Principal Kashmir University Model High School to allow Maryam to undergo practice of teaching and internship in her school without any hindrance. The girl was very creative, and by dint of her hard work she prepared excellent low cost improvised teaching aids.

The supervisor reported that Maryam has gained sufficient mastery over the core skills of teaching. She was very effective in the class and reached her students with heart.

As coordinator I remained in constant touch with the parents of the girl and shared success stories of the physically challenged girls who had made distinguished achievements in their life.

After completing the programme formalities without asking for any concessions Maryam appeared in her BEd examinations. She passed all the papers except teaching of Geography. She got 26 marks out of 80 and had to reappear in that paper.

Here I have to make a point the present statues in vogue has a uniform yardstick for gauging both normal and physically challenged students. It is 32 out of 80 that is 40% pass percentage for both the groups.

Here University has to revisit its examination statues and provide some relaxation to physically challenged learners say from 40% to 36 % since they struggle a lot to compete with the normal learners.

Finally, she passed her BEd and proved a successful entrepreneur by establishing her own small academy for gifted underachievers from urban setting. And though her journey was fraught with struggle, Maryam emerged triumphant, a shining example of the power of perseverance in the face of adversity.

The education of visually impaired girl child presents a unique set of challenges that require specialized support and resources to overcome. Here are some of the key challenges faced by visually impaired girl child in accessing education:

Limited Access to Materials: Visually impaired girl child often faces problems accessing standard print materials. Traditional textbooks and learning resources are not accessible to them unless they are converted into alternative formats such as Braille, audio recordings, or digital text. However, these alternative formats may not always be readily available or easily accessible.

Individualized Instruction and Support: Visually impaired girl child require specialized instruction tailored to their individual needs. This includes training in skills such as Braille literacy, orientation and mobility, assistive technology use, and independent living skills. However, not all schools have teachers who are trained in providing such instruction, leading to a lack of support for visually impaired students.

Accessibility of Learning Environments: Many schools lack the necessary infrastructure and accommodations to create an accessible learning environment for visually impaired girl child. This includes facilities such as accessible classrooms, libraries, labs, and recreational areas, as well as assistive devices such as screen readers, magnifiers, and tactile graphics.

Social Stigma and Discrimination: Visually impaired girl child may face social stigma and discrimination from their peers and teachers due to misconceptions and stereotypes about disability. This can lead to feelings of isolation, low self-esteem, and reluctance to participate in classroom activities and social interactions.

Transportation and Mobility: Visually impaired girl child may face challenges in accessing transportation to and fro from school, as well as navigating their way around school campuses and unfamiliar environments independently. Lack of accessible transportation options and inadequate mobility training can limit their ability to attend school regularly and participate fully in school activities.

Limited Opportunities for co-curricular Activities: Visually impaired girl child may have limited opportunities to participate in co-curricular activities such as sports, arts, and cultural events due to lack of accessibility and inclusive programming. This can deprive them of valuable social and recreational experiences and hinder their overall development.

Inclusive Learning Environments: Creating inclusive learning environments that accommodate the needs of visually impaired children is essential for their educational success. This includes ensuring physical accessibility of classrooms and school facilities, as well as promoting inclusive teaching practices and peer interactions.

Social and Emotional Support: Visually impaired children may face social and emotional challenges related to their disability, including feelings of isolation, low self-esteem, and social stigma. Building supportive relationships with peers and educators, as well as providing opportunities for socialization and participation in extracurricular activities, can help address these challenges.

Internalized Stigma: Visually impaired girl child may internalize negative stereotypes and beliefs about their disability, leading to feelings of shame, self-doubt, and low self-worth. Internalized stigma can have long-lasting effects on the student's mental health, self-esteem, and overall quality of life.

Addressing these challenges requires a collective effort involving educators, parents, policymakers, and community organizations to ensure that visually impaired girl child have equal access to quality education and opportunities for learning and growth. This includes providing adequate resources and support, promoting inclusive practices, raising awareness about the needs of visually impaired girl child, and advocating for policy changes to improve educational outcomes for this marginalized group.

Dr Showkat Rashid Wani, Senior Coordinator, Directorate of Distance Education, University of Kashmir.