Students with vision disabilities struggle to get scribes to write in regional languages

Asia-Pacific, July 27 2016

BENGALURU, INDIA: Students with vision disabilities in the city find it difficult to find scribes when they have to write examinations in languages other than English. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), who generally arrange for these scribes, say that while it is relatively easier to find volunteers to write answer papers in English, not many come forward to write in Kannada or other regional languages.

One reason could be lack of awareness. Those who are proficient in the language are not aware that there is a need for their skills. Often, volunteers who can read and write in Kannada are those who have studied in Kannada-medium schools.

“Another challenge is that most volunteers are college students, and are themselves held up during the examination season,” adds Pallavi Acharya, scribe coordinator with Youth for Seva.

Every month, Youth for Seva gets requests for scribes from 50 to 60 visually impaired students. This number rises to 250-300 during examination season, as each student would have at least six papers to write. Ms. Acharya is currently compiling a database of volunteers from across the State who are interested in being scribes.

One reason for this difficulty is that writing an examination in a language requires a strong command over the language. “It is difficult to spell out Kannada words in theoretical subjects, especially subjects such as music or Optional Kannada. Even people with a reasonable knowledge of the language struggle to write answers for these subjects,” said Penskhem Lang-Ya-Yi-Lamare, a visually impaired student from Jyoti Nivas College, who struggled to find a scribe for her Kannada language examination.

The students commonly find scribes through friends, NGOs or through college staff. “When we do not find someone who is fluent in the language of instruction, it affects our performance in the examinations,” said Kishore Murthy, a B.Com student, with 65 per cent vision disabilities.

Joseph Kiran Louis, who teaches at Shree Ramana Maharishi Academy for the Blind, is approached by his former students for scribes sometimes. He also acknowledges that it is difficult to find someone to write in regional languages.

“Usually students with vision disabilities make their own arrangements. Sometimes however, we have to help them,” said Girish B. Kulkarni, vice-principal of National College, Basavanagudi.

Who can be a scribe?

Bangalore University has rules that specify who is eligible to be a scribe for a person with vision disability.

“The scribe has to be a junior to the person taking the examination, if he or she belongs to the same stream. This is not mandatory if they are studying in a different course,” said Suresh V. Nadagoudar, Bangalore University, Registrar (Evaluation).

Mr. Nadagoudar added that students with vision disabilitiesare given an hour extra to complete their examination.

Source: Hindu

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