Books to make classroom inclusive

Asia-Pacific, Misc., April 26 2017

NEW DELHI: To allow students with disabilities to read a book along with regular students in a classroom, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) unveiled a series of 40 booklets on Friday. The council will study the impact of these books to determine if the technology used in these booklets can be transferred to textbooks so that all students can read from the same book and in the same classrooms.

Each of the 40 booklet comes in both print and digital versions, the latter for students with hearing disabilities, while the one meant for students with vision disabilities has Braille and tactile components. These will enable children with learning disability, speech, vision disability, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and cerebral palsy to follow the same reading assignment as the other students.

Till now, students with physical and other limitations used to have different study materials as well as separate classrooms. “To improve the quality of education, students should learn together, but so far children with special educational needs were learning in isolation,” said Hrushikesh Senapaty, director, NCERT. The introduction of the special books addresses the issue of an inclusive classroom.

The project has been started on a pilot basis and keeps all the principles of universal design for learning in mind. The printed content has been released under the Barkhaa Series, a supplementary graded reading series originally developed by the Department of Elementary Education at NCERT.

The new series has 40 illustrated story booklets covering five themes — relationships, birds-animals, musical instruments, games and toys and food —and four reading levels, aimed at helping children in learning at the foundation level. “The reading series is a paradigm shift in the way the teaching-learning material is conceived or prepared,” elaborated Hemant Kumar, spokesperson, NCERT. “It is a first-of-its-kind series for early readers. This can be seen as a significant platform for true inclusion in primary classrooms.”

Anupam Ahuja of the Department of Education of Groups with Special Needs at NCERT added, “Our motto is one book for all. We do not want to label children and these books are a baby step in the direction of having classrooms where children share the same space and same books, without feeling insecure or discriminated against.” Defining this series as a “beginning”, the NCERT director said that the eventual objective of the exercise is to scale it to the textbook level.

Source: Times of India

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