Umang Foundation, a public welfare trust pursuing disability issues, organized a workshop, first of its kind, on “Educational Rights of Children with Disabilities” for the teaching staff, disabled students and their parents at the Portmore Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Shimla. The members of the foundation also welcomed 19 girl students with visual and hearing impairments and assured them all support needed for their educational empowerment.

Earlier, Umang Foundation has accused state government for failing to provide inclusive education for students with blindness and hearing impairment and urged the state government to provide hostel facility these students in Govt. Girls’ Senior Secondary School, Portmore, Shimla.

Ajai Srivastava, Chairman of the Foundation and an expert of disability rights, while welcoming the disabled students, said it was a golden opportunity for them to study in a prestigious government school of the State. They have right to free education, as per The State Policy for Persons with Disabilities, up to University level. He said that the educational institutions have to restructure their course curriculum as per the specific needs and requirements of the disabled students.

As per the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, blind students are to be exempted from taking Mathematics as a subject while deaf students have option to study only one language. H.P. State Policy for the Persons with Disabilities has also mentioned about this, he added. Now the new Policy to conduct written examination for the disabled would bring a revolutionary change in the examination system. He deliberated upon the use of new technology in the education of the disabled. He said the new technology has opened new avenues for the persons with visual and hearing impairments.

He said that on his petition for the implementation of examination policy for the disabled, the High Court of Himachal Pradesh has issued notices to the state government.

Umang Foundation has provided a part time special educator for the hearing impaired students and a female helper on the request of the school. Parents along with their children with disabilities also participated in the program. Ajai Srivastava also addressed the queries of disabled girls and their parents.

Principal Devender Kashyap said, “Inclusive education is the policy of the State and we will make efforts to provide all sort of support to the disabled students in our school. They are an important part of our diverse society. We have allotted hostel accommodation to them on priority basis and did not charge any fee.”

Earlier, Yashwant Rai, General Secretary and Vimla Thakur, Trustee, welcomed the students and their parents. The young team of the Foundation including Surender Kumar, Meenu Chandel, Guddi Rani, Arpana Negi, Sarita Verma, Dipika Sharma, Ankit Justa, Vikram Zinta, Shivani Raghuvanshi, Pankaj Thakur, Shikha, Nisha, Anu Thakur and presented gifts to the newly admitted disabled students.