Since equity is one of the important parameters in quality enhancement, the college took up the initiative to extend a helping hand to visually and physically challenged students by establishing the unit ‘Chethana’ – enabling unit for differently-abled. The initiation got a boost with the funds released by UGC-HEPSN and supported by DCE through which basic infrastructure was created. With the increase in the admissions of differently enabled students the responsibility of the Chethana unit expanded to cater to the various needs of the students, which was later extended for their skill enhancement, employability, health and hygiene, all-round development of the students and special training programs were conceived to empower them. Blind students’ hostels located near to our institution, NGO’s support for them and the consistency in the training program of the unit added to the strength of the distinctiveness.
Initially, soon after the establishment of the unit, the focus was on the curricular aspects to achieve excellence in academics. The unit started producing additional supportive study material in the form of audio and digital books Braille material is voluminous to store and expensive. Audio-books on competitive exams are also made available in the unit enabling the students to excel in the university exams and crack competitive examinations. An audio journal for the visually challenged is subscribed. The academic facilities in the institution have empowered students to pursue post- graduation.
The unit realized the need for additional attention to the health and hygiene of these students and organized programs on the health and hygiene of girl children, add-on course on yoga. Awareness programs on health are regularly arranged for freshers. To keep them fit physically, psychologically and emotionally sports events were conducted and encouraged them to participate in various competitions. Outdoor blind cricket set and specially designed indoor sports are available for students for practise during their free time. The unit facilitates the participation of students in sports activities by entering into MOU with Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled that enabled the creation of sports personalities through proper coaching who have participated in sports events like Marathon, and adventure sports in Thailand and Japan and won prizes and recognitions at the international level has added a feather to the cap of ‘Chethana’.
They are also trained in performing-arts by the coordinator. A day in February- ‘JnanaSinchana’ is dedicated to showcasing their talent on the stage and prizes are distributed for achievers in academics, performing arts and sports. The activities are supported by alumni. Students have brought accolades to the institution at the National and international level a ‘Chetana’ student attended a cultural exchange program in New York.
Job opportunities for Visually impaired students were very meagre, but currently, due to the global technological breakthrough in the field of computers, avenues are opened up in the software domain for blinds through the development of screen reading software that motivated the unit take up the training task. The unit orients, acquaints and trains every fresh batch of the students to the ICT learning with specific software and the Unit’s pedagogy which it has been successfully imparting through a well-established curriculum and system which includes more than a month
keyboard orientation, Kannada Unicode and NVDA screen-reading software. Special thrust has been given to impart English to facilitate employability and training sessions are before class hours.
The blind students are also given employability training by the coordinator, facilitators from outside, and agencies including alumni of the college, that assured 100 % placement and all students who have passed before 2016 are placed in Government, public and Private sectors. Two students have cleared the preliminary KAS examination. Few are placed as FDAs and SDAs and at other levels in government, and public/private sectors. Further, the unit Entered into MOU with ‘Help the Blind foundation’(HTBF) for conducting placement training. ‘Canara Bank’ and ‘Enable India joined hands with the UNIT and HTBF to conduct EMET (Education, Mobility, Employability Training) program for two years. The commitment of the Unit has made the visually impaired students to become economically independent and shoulder the responsibility of their families instead of being a burden on them.
The dignity and integrity, it has established is attracting the academicians, researchers, educationists, philanthropists, NGOs, and individuals who are keen in inclusive activities. This facilitated pouring in of scholarships and a researchers from other universities conducted add-on-course on ‘The Effects of Yoga and Physical exercise on Psychological well-being of Individuals with visual impairment’, benefitted ‘chethana’ students and researchers from Hongkong thus expanding the distinctiveness.