Sightsavers, HCL and the Govt of Rajasthan Makes Education Accessible for Children with Visual Impairment  

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Rajasthan: Amid a pandemic that engulfed almost the entire world and a lockdown, it became extremely difficult to manage the learning needs of blind and visually impaired children. The challenges however were manifold when it came to reaching blind children in remote regions of the country for continuing inclusive education—a key programme of Sightsavers.

Sightsavers with support from HCL Foundation demonstrated the development of a model resource room in Jhalawar and Udaipur under its Inclusive Education Programme for children with visual impairment. Further, Sightsavers, during a meeting with the officials of the Department of Education advocated after demonstrating the usage and importance of equipping government resource centres with devices like Divya Nayan, Mobile, Computer INDO-NVDA, refreshable Braille display and geometry kit for children with visual impairment. Based on the demonstration and recommendations of Sightsavers, the Government of Rajasthan took a big step and planned for developing a model resource room for all Children with Special Needs (CWSN) and incorporated budgetary provisions in the Annual Work Plan and Budget (AWP&B) of 2021-22 for all 33 districts. The model resource rooms will have several devices including Divya Nayan, refreshable Braille display, geometry kit (for the blind), mobile phones, Daisy Players, Computer with INDO-NVDA and a smart/interactive board for children with visual impairment.

Around a hundred children with visual impairment across all 33 districts of Rajasthan will receive laptops this year from the Department of Education, Government of Rajasthan. This has become an integral part of the State budget since 2019-20. After the successful demonstration of self-defence training for visually-impaired children in 2020, the Government of Rajasthan has again allocated the budget this year to exclusively train around 100 visually impaired and hearing-impaired girls on self-defence.

“The Government’s highly creditable efforts along with the support of our partner, HCL, have resulted in the assurance that most children with disability in the respective districts receive equal educational opportunities. The practise of inclusive education in schools will help in promoting social acceptance, rights, and inclusion of people with disabilities,” said RN Mohanty, CEO – Sightsavers India.

“HCL Foundation’s flagship programme for rural development, HCL Grant, aims to recognise visionary organisations working towards development and nation-building in rural India. Under the programme, it has been a pleasure partnering with the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind (Sightsavers India) in their efforts of creating a conducive and inclusive environment in educational institutions. The partnership aims to make schools accessible and a quality experience for Children with Visual Impairment (CVI). This is a transformational step towards building inclusive rural communities and mainstreaming the students with visual impairment. Resonating the core values at HCL Foundation, this project places technology and the use of ICT at the centre to bridge the gap amongst students. Digital empowerment will not only ensure a brighter future for CVIs but also enable them to be independent and lead a life of dignity. The increased focus of the Government of Rajasthan in this direction is a welcome and much-appreciated step. HCL Foundation wishes Sightsavers India the best in their endeavours and is very happy to be an active part of the change,” said Nidhi Pundhir, Director, HCL Foundation.