Video Producer: Maaz Hasan
Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the framework of education. Students are still finding it difficult to adapt to the changes, especially the visually impaired students. Touch plays a major role in their education. However, amid the pandemic, how can one teach through touch? As a result, these students are facing a lot of difficulties in pursuing their education in the online mode.
We visited Ramakrishna Mission Blind Boys Academy in Kolkata to understand the problems being faced by the students there.
On reaching the school, we got to know about how visually impaired students study with the help of braille scripts, and the publication of such books in detail. During the pandemic, the school ensured that the publication of books was carried out and the students could access them in the form of audio books.
Although the students are attending online classes and taking their exams online, they say there is a huge problem in understanding the core concepts because touch plays a huge role for them.
"I mostly faced problems in Science and Maths. For example, there are several model activities in Physics and Biology, which I used to understand in class with the help of touch but that cannot be understood properly at home."Deep Mondal, Student
Finding writers for their exams has also proven to be difficult during the pandemic.
"When exams happen online, we need to find writers. Now, finding writers online is a hassle. Some students, who are outside West Bengal, like Bihar, Jharkhand face more difficulty in finding writers to write their exams."Shubham Gupta, Student
We spoke to the teachers and the principal of the school. All of them echoed similar sentiments.
"The main problem in online classes is that we, visually impaired people, study in three-dimensional format. For example, people who see can study in two dimensions and three dimensions also. Say, a person who has sight can recognise a nose whether it is presented in 2D or 3D. However, a visually impaired student can understand it only in the form of 3D, through models, braille charts, and maps," says Indranath Banerjee, a teacher at the school.
"The main modes of teaching for visually challenged people are talk and touch. Through telephone, talking can be done but until and unless they touch anything they won’t be able to have concrete ideas. Those who joined in the year 2020, had to start with Braille class, Mathematical devices, and other things by touch. And they are not getting the scope of touch."Biswajit Ghosh, Principal
The primary school students are also facing extreme difficulties because learning braille is one of the most important things for a visually impaired person. Right from the beginning, braille is taught to the students in the school. For teaching braille, too, touch is very important and due to this pandemic situation, the braille system is difficult to grasp for the primary students.
"We are really going through challenging times. Despite our sincerest efforts, we are not being able to serve our students in a satisfied manner. We are hoping that the school will resume again."Biswajit Ghosh, Principal
Deep Mondal, a student, says, "I have seen in several news channels that the problems of the blind students are not talked about. I think people should wake up from their slumber and talk about the problems of the blind students too."
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