The Umang Foundation, a public welfare trust pursuing issues pertaining to disabled persons, has demanded the state government to implement norms, set by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for conducting examinations for blind persons and others who cannot write due to a disability, with immediate effect.

Ajai Srivastava, chairman of the foundation, has in a letter to Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment DR Shandil said examinations of undergraduate and postgraduate classes were to commence shortly and any delay in its implementation would cause grave injustice to the disabled. These norms were to be adopted and implemented in all the academic and recruitment examinations.

The ministry had circulated the new norms on February 26 to bring uniformity with regard to time to be allowed to disabled persons to write the examinations. As per the guidelines, disabled persons would now be given not less than 20 minutes extra per hour of examination, which meant that universities and colleges would now be obliged to allow four hours to them for a three hour duration exam. It was a major relief to them, as at present only half-an-hour extra time was being given.

Srivastava said the use of new technology in conducting examinations was an important feature in the new writing norms, which clearly mentioned that the examining body should also provide reading material in Braille or e-text or on computers having suitable screen-reading softwares for open-book examination. Similarly, online examination should be in accessible format and question papers and all the other study material should be accessible as per the international standards. The disabled should be given the option of choosing the mode for taking the examinations in Braille or on the computer or in large print or even by recording the answers as the examining bodies could easily make use of technology to convert question paper into such formats.

Another major relief was that there would not be any criteria of educational qualification of the scribe. Instead, the invigilation system would be strengthened, so that the candidates did not indulge in malpractices during examinations.