University of Pune empowers students with vision disabilities with e-learning courses

Asia-Pacific, July 30 2012

PUNE: There was a time when Rachana Shelar, a student with vision disability, had to depend on Braille books to study her standard eight syllabus. She had to depend on a reader or a writer many times when she faced some difficulties with these Braille books. But, not anymore. Rachana is now empowered with e-learning, an audio and telecom-based learning programme. The Advanced Technology Blind Student’s Learning Centre at the University of Pune has empowered students who are blind or low vision from standard V to standard X with e-learning courses.

The e-learning modules have been designed for four fundamental subjects, namely Computer, English, Mathematics and Science. An audio conferencing with experts will also be established for students to raise doubts and clear concepts in these four subjects.

Books on these subjects have been recorded in dialogue form and students can prepare for exams on their own. Besides success stories, interviews, current affairs, home science has also been included in the course. The programme, which was launched on Thursday, will first begin in Kolhapur on a pilot basis with 18 students and later replicated elsewhere in the state.

Satish Navale, who led this project, said, “The students will be taught for a couple of hours before and after school through the audio medium, where they will listen to the CDs that have been recorded for the four subjects. We have tied up with experts in Pune and Kolhapur who will answer the doubts of these students through a conference call.”

A visually-impaired student, who is part of this programme, Savita Arke, said, “There are some modules in this course, such as farming and home science, which are very beneficial to us. We can become self-reliant if we learn these techniques and the audio medium is highly beneficial for us to understand.”

Navale, however, is looking for volunteer teachers who are ready to teach these students. He said, “We have launched the programme, but we are in need of volunteers. We could tie-up with them and establish a conference call to teach any of the topics in the four subjects. We could even do this teaching through the internet. Right now, we have a very small workforce to run the project successfully.”

Navale said depending on the success of the project in Kolhapur, it will further be extended to other cities. “For one year, we will run it in Kolhapur for these 18 students so that we can study the drawbacks and fill in the gaps, if any, to run the programme. Once it is successful, we will replicate it elsewhere.”

Source: Times of India

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