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International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Students with special needs break barriers and make way for online learning during COVID-19 pandemic

11:55 AM Dec 06, 2021 | Manali Momaya

Covid-19 brought untold hardship to students across the world. Those ‘disabled’ probably went through a rougher time. On International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Free Press Journal decided to find out how exactly the challenges that were faced.

According to Liane De Gama, the founder of Atmavishwas Vocational training centre, Goa, the challenges faced by students and staff/teachers were the same as any regular school.

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She stated, “Teachers had to adapt and learn themselves how to teach through a virtual medium. The main struggle was predominantly for those students who needed a structured or one-on-one learning environment. Here the computer often became a barrier to reach them. Ours being a vocational training unit for young adults with disabilities, they needed to have a parent/sibling/helper as there were certain parts of the activity that they couldn't do on their own. But for things like music or art, they could manage independently. But all the families were very vocal about this opportunity to be involved wholeheartedly in their child's learning. Sometimes the parents were more excited than the students.”

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“Due to the varying levels of challenges, it is hard to generalise whether students were able to learn better online or offline. Both mediums worked. But as a teacher, the challenge for me was to go through the computer and reach them on a soul level that is otherwise much easier in person. But the most commendable part of the learning is that the students were able to adapt to the virtual medium,” Liane added.

An authority of Happy Home & and School for the Blind of Mumbai, who didn’t want to be named said, “Even though the students are visually impaired, they weren’t sidelined. Online sessions were conducted on daily basis for all the classes including pre-primary. Group, as well as one-to-one sessions for all the subjects, were conducted, explaining lessons, concepts art and craft through audios videos and live Google meets.”

Dr. Salil Jandyal, an authority at Victoria Memorial School for the Blind said, “Sometimes internet connectivity was a challenge. Availability of parents was another challenge because some parents go to work during the daytime. It was a one-time experience for everybody and so was for our kids. So, just like us, gradually they also accepted the online classes and are continuing with that.”

““I believe the pandemic has given an opportunity to everyone to explore and utilise tech advances to an optimal level including children with visual impairments,” he added.

Also Read: International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2021: AYJNISHD(D) signs MoU with Pratham NGO

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