Using Technology to Enable Education for Children with Disabilities

Technology is the only medium that is helping various spectrums to work and grow in this unprecedented time of difficulty. This pandemic is adversely affecting all spectrums including education especially for Children with disabilities. The very format of inclusive education is still far from our education system that is making parents and students worrisome.

The primary responsibility to make educational policy for the education of children with disabilities are with the Department of Empowerment for Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) (under the Ministry of Social Justice and Welfare) and the Ministry of Human Resource Department (HRD). Department of Empowerment for Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) (under the Ministry of Social Justice and Welfare) is launching and implementing special schemes related to rehabilitation and education of persons with disabilities (PWDs). Also, this the department is looking after the education and training of rehabilitation professionals and compliance with international conventions like the United Nation Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities etc.

Ministry of Human Resource Department (HRD) is designing the educational needs of children with disabilities through schemes under SamgraSikhshaAbhiyaan, National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), Rehabilitation Council of India, etc. Children with disabilities have the Right to Education (RTE) Act as a ‘disadvantaged group’ and are eligible for free and compulsory education from ages 6-14 years.

These associations are offering admittance and education but fail to mention how to create the right environment that will be created by deploying adequate physical and digital infrastructure. Also, how to access the appropriate teaching tools and technologies to promote inclusivity in education for Children with Disabilities?

Ensuring Education during COVID 19: initiatives for inclusive education:-

Concerned ministries are not taking any strict action to provide education for these disabled children when schools are initiating to teach children with the help of technology and innovative teaching techniques. Though there are not effective services started by any ministry or department to impart education for children with disabilities.

Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disability that comes under the Ministry of Social Justice and Welfare have released Comprehensive Disability Inclusive Guidelines for the protection and safety of persons with disabilities during the difficult times of COVID 19. Hence it has nowhere mentioned the educational needs of children with disabilities; instead, it only talks to provide essential services and assistance to people with disabilities. Also, there is no provision that ensures any kind of distance, open, or home-based education for children with disabilities.

Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) through its Department of School Literacy and Education is ensuring access to Education through various online platforms and initiatives like e-Pathshala, National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER) , Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA), SWAYAM platforms (including DTH channels) etc. to enable online learning for children. The lockdown period during COVID 19 has witnessed an increase in MHRD’s National Online Education platform SWAYAM and other digital initiatives. But there is no specific mention is provided by these ministries and departments how CWD’s can become beneficiaries of these platforms that are being tailored to suit their needs and specifications.

Utilizing online platforms to enable Education for Children with Disabilities:

Easy and affordable access to technology can help Children with Disabilities (CWDs) access information, services, take part in socio-cultural networks, and engage in economic activities. The utilization of technology promises the potential to overcome the issues of inclusive education and help associations to provide access to those who are not able to connect with the world during the pandemic. Various Government and non-Government organizations are initiating towards providing an educational platform for children to continue their studies during this difficult time. We should focus the same and put some efforts into the children with disabilities to provide the environment and attention that they require to groom in the present time of COVID 19. There is a lack of dedication and clarity that can be seen while deploying an educational platform for children with disabilities. Moreover, special educators are facing authority issues where they should provide with some special provisions to teach those who are fighting with any physical or mental disability. This is the crucial time for them where they should not only be looked after but special attention is required by them to stay happy and healthy in the present situation.

The present complex situation has an increased number of problems for Children with Disabilities. All we need to focus on their needs and requirements for education and development. In recent times technology has taken a leap and new & innovative technologies have replaced conventional methods of teaching techniques. Moreover, in the present times, modern infrastructures with well-equipped labs are helping teachers to become more practical and expressive. However, during COVID 19 lockdown technology is helping children to have normal school routines with innovative teaching techniques. It should be taken in the light that the inclusive educational programs are modified and implemented to provide a common platform for all children including children with disabilities.

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