With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a significant reliance on online modes of teaching and learning. As the country has hastily transitioned to digital education, students with visual disabilities are seemingly being left behind. Vidhi’s new study – ‘How Accessible is Education for Students with Visual Disabilities | An Analysis of Digital Resources‘ – highlights the inaccessibility of the Centre’s Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA) platform for students with visual disabilities, and policy gaps in making digital education inclusive for all students.
To launch the report, Vidhi’s Education team organised a webinar on March 24 at 5 PM which was followed by a discussion with Ruma Bannerjee (Chairperson, Seva-in-Action and member Central Advisory Board on Disabilities, MSJ&E, Government of India) and Amar Jain (Advocate and a certified professional in web accessibility).
The launch event also included a discussion on the need for Universal Design Learnig (UDL) and the role of laws and policies in securing accessible digital education to students with disabilities.
About the Study
In June 2020, Vidhi published a Briefing Book titled, ‘Towards a Post-COVID India: 25 Governance Challenges and Legal Reforms’. The book contained a chapter ‘Making Digital Education Inclusive’, highlighting how students with disabilities struggle to access schooling, including access to digital modes of education.
This new report digs deeper into the online education ecosystem from the perspective of students with visual disabilities with the aim to re-emphasise India’s legal obligation to make all educational content available in audio, print and electronic media accessible to persons with disabilities. Despite legislation that secures the right of students with disabilities to education, it finds that educational resources hosted on the Centre’s much touted DIKSHA platform fail to be accessible to students with visual disabilities.
It also conducts a systematic review of the accessibility of the DIKSHA portal and a sample of learning resources hosted on it. Beyond accessibility of e-learning resources, this study also uncovers the urgent need for updating the curriculum and content of textbooks to ensure truly inclusive education for students with visual disabilities.
You can access the full report here.