During this difficult time of the worldwide Covid pandemic, schools have been using the digital platform to stay in touch with students and continue their studies. Saksham has not lagged behind in this endeavour.
Teachers at Saksham are connected with their students through WhatsApp audio and video calls or through Zoom. They have made planning for the new session and taking classes accordingly. The activities are being supervised by the seniors and they are also giving their suggestions for further improvement in delivering the concepts. Every day teachers are sharing interesting lessons/ activities on whatsapp. Parents are following those videos and teaching their children. Parents also share videos of the children after completing the task. Teachers are giving homework which the children are submitting through voice messages, videos or images. Teachers and parents are interacting regularly, resolving queries and sharing suggestions. Parents are also communicating among themselves and motivating each other through the videos they are sharing the activities they are doing with their children.
Our integrated children are also attending the online classes conducted by their respective schools. All the students have been promoted to the next class. They have downloaded the NCERT books from E pathshala and the books of other publishers from Sugamaya Pudtakalaya. Their teachers are uploading E lessons and assignments on the website of the school which students are completing and sending back to them for checking. They have started their tuition classes through WhatsApp or conference call with our integrated teachers. They are helping students in completing their assignments and notes. Apart from this some of the students have joined other online classes to appear for competitive exams like through Akash Institute, career launcher, online course in learning Python and chess from Indic AI foundation.
All this may sound very familiar to normal households in Delhi or NOIDA. However, this becomes special when we realise that all of the above applies to students with blindness or multiple disabilities. These students are between the age group of 1 to 18. At least 70% out of these are from families dependent on daily earnings and economically weaker section of the society. What makes this special is that this transition from normal school learning to digital form of learning has been made possible due to the long term investment of Saksham in digital literacy of all their students right from their childhood. To be able to read and write in Devanagari and Roman script in addition to the braille script is an integral part of the education program. Every child has their own digital device such as a laptop or smartphone with screen reading software or the refreshable braille display. These devices enable students to be able to read and write in large print or listen to books and assignments or to read or write in braille independently without any external intervention. These very devices enabled them to use the applications and tools for online classes and methods of communications by themselves. This was introduced for their inclusion in mainstream schools and to prepare them for contemporary employment opportunities. This vision of investment into future has paid dividends by allowing to continue their education during the lockdown. Very few children with blindness or low vision have this privilege in India. It is said that the world will never be the same after Covid-19. We do hope that the state of digital literacy and the age at which this is introduced to children with disabilities such as blindness, low vision, learning disabilities, etc. will change for all. It is often lack of willingness to change and not the lack of resources that stands in the way of introducing digital reading and writing solutions and making them part of their day to day method of studies. If Saksham can do this in India using community support, we certainly believe that it is possible to achieve this for every child with a disability in our country.