St. Xavier’s College (SXC) has always upheld the ethos of Inclusion. The Xavier’s Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged (XRCVC) – for students with disabilities on campus has always strived to bring in the best inclusive education practices on campus and to be a leader at the national level in the field of inclusion and access for persons with disabilities. XRCVC in sync with the Jesuit ethos of community outreach, research and education-industry linkages has an extensive scope of work.
It has panned across providing inclusive education services to over 110+ in-house students with disabilities each year – across the 21 disability types, training services to persons with disabilities across the country, awareness training for diverse stakeholders, teacher training and inclusive education research. The XRCVC has also been a leading advocate for Inclusion and regularly engages with the government machinery to building systemic level changes for inclusion.
From 2015 to 2020, the XRCVC has reached out to a total of 21913 beneficiaries. Of these 445 are students with disabilities at SXC, 2783 persons with disabilities underwent various training programs at the XRCVC (Non-Xavierites), 15705 persons across various stakeholder groups were approached through our awareness programs, 1279 people attended our ‘reading without seeing’ workshops- a program to help spread awareness on assistive technologies across rural and semi-urban areas. Further 1701 persons underwent various stakeholder training programs for accessible content creation and inclusive education aimed at teachers, special educators, teacher training and people interested in building inclusive education services.
XRCVC through its continuing advocacy, research work and training programmes aims to keep pushing the boundaries of access and inclusion in the country.
RUSA Pilot on Inclusive Higher Education:
The XRCVC was appointed by RUSA as a consultant for its pilot on Inclusive Higher Education. XRCVC conceptualised and implemented the 360 degree approach to Inclusion at SXC and many other colleges. SXC received the Nipman Foundation – Microsoft Equal Opportunity Awards 2018 in the category ‘Enabler – Inclusive Schools’.
Support to Higher Education Institutes and Building an Eco-System:
To garner collective strength XRCVC has spearheaded the formation of the Inclusive University Alliance (IUA) which has been formed through an MoU between leading higher education institutes in the country to share best practises and promote inclusion initiatives.
XRCVC was also appointed by IIT Kanpur to help them set up their disability support services.
SXC had its first student with blindness enrolled for BSc- Chemistry, Botany and Zoology. XRCVC provided training to teaching and non-teaching staff and also purchased the necessary equipment to make the laboratories accessible.
College has also facilitated the concept of guest students for Students with Disabilities (SwD) who wish to get an experience of a holistic learning environment of a mainstream institution but whose disability does not permit them to participate completely, otherwise. Such students have been permitted to attend college and participate in its activities without going through any evaluations and would be provided only certificates of attendance. This opportunity enables them to gain life skills to facilitate a successful career in their chosen vocation.
The option of non-written, but oral recorded examinations is also offered to students with disability to ensure parity in the evaluative methods.
Research and Resource Building:
XRCVC has been implementing various models of inclusive Education for students with blindness and low vision at the school level for the past 5 years to identify the most effective resource efficient model for India. Based on the learnings, XRCVC has been building a comprehensive educational resource which includes Teaching Learning Aid Library, Concept Teaching Manuals of visual concepts, Special Skill Curriculums and Bridge Courses for Teacher Training.
XRCVC released its research report “Degrees of Accessibility” that looks at design and teaching pedagogy ideas of an accessible geometry kit for students with blindness.
XRCVC has created resources for making STEM education accessible and is building up a data-bank of methods of making experiments accessible to students with blindness.
XRCVC has built a resource kit for educators to make online learning accessible to meet the COVID 19 challenge.
XRCVC has set up an Inclusive Education Resource Page on its website with data related to its various endeavours for others to use and replicate.
Facilitating and Creating Accessible Material for students with Print Disabilities.
XRCVC as one of the founding members of the DAISY Forum of India was one of the key organisation involved in launching –SugamyaPustakalaya – An online library for persons with print disabilities in partnership with Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. (617 titles published.)
Low cost indigenous accessible technology promotion and support has been a key aspect of XRCVC’s work. Under this XRCVC has provided detailed guidance and testing support for development of – ‘Braille Me : refreshable brailler’ which is now available at 1/10th the cost of its international counterparts. Along with this, the XRCVC is also responsible for an audio-tactile menu which featured in the Limca Book of Records in 2015, a part of committees working on the Accessible India campaign, works with the Ministry of Urban Development, and has MoUs with Social Alpha and CSMVS for building assistive technologies.
In particular, over 2018 to 2020, the inclusion agenda has been expanded further through the building upon the XRCVC trademark awareness concept of Antarchakshu. The XRCVC built the awareness module into an expanded 5 module course that can be delivered within educational institutions. The Course titled Diversity Discourse looks at a wider concept of building diversity and inclusion mind-set amongst its learners. The XRCVC has started offering this course to the Xavier’s Institute of Communication students.