On May 22, the Telangana government announced that the SSC (class 10) board exams will resume from June 8. The exams will be held between June 8 and July 5, with a two-day interval between each exam. This is to allow authorities to sanitise the entire premise thoroughly before holding the next exam.
The exams, which began on March 19 amidst the COVID-19 crisis, was postponed following the Telangana High Courtâ€™s intervention. However, as it could not be delayed any longer, Education Minister Sabitha Indra Reddy listed out the precautionary measures that will be followed while conducting the examinations from June 8 â€” each student will be provided with a mask, will be screened before entering the examination hall, and only one student will be allowed to sit on each bench.
The Minister, however, failed to address how students with visual impairment will take their exams. This has left 300-odd students with visual impairment, who are set to appear for the SSC exams across the state, worried.
These students require scribes to write the answers for them, as the former dictate. They usually sit right next to each other. However, as physical distancing has become mandatory, these students were left clueless about what arrangements have been made for them.
Adarsh Reddy, a student from the Devnar School for the Blind in Hyderabad, said, "As the government said that only one student will sit on each bench and that physical distance should be maintained, we are confused about how the seating arrangement would be made for us. We require the scribes to sit close to us so that we can dictate the answers to them. However, so far we have not officially received any clarification in this regard."
Following complaints from anxious students, TNM reached out to the director of the Board of Secondary Education, Satyanarayana Reddy, who then explained the precautionary measures for these students.
â€śStudents with visual impairment will be provided separate rooms and their respective scribes will sit far from them to maintain physical distance. The students can dictate loudly,â€ť said Satyanarayana Reddy.
Generally, the students and schools will make their own arrangements for scribes. However, owing to the pandemic, the volunteers are not coming forward, for this the Director clarified that the government will arrange for scribes.
The National Institute for the Empowerment of Persons with Visual Disabilities (NIEPVD) in Hyderabad has also made 10 recommendations to be followed during the examinations, keeping in mind the welfare of students with visual impairment. These recommendations have been sent to the Disabilities Welfare Department.
â€śIt is worrying. Students with visual impairment rely on their sense of touch. Now, because of the nature of COVID-19, they cannot touch any surfaces. So sanitisation should be done thoroughly, including the vehicles that ferry them. The scribes, too, should be sanitised and medically examined,â€ť said K Srinivas Reddy, a faculty member of NIEPVD.