Visakhapatnam: Corona pandemic brings new challenges for visually-impaired

A teacher from Government Residential School for Visually-Challenged Girls imparting lessons online to the visually-impaired students in Visakhapatnam
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A teacher from Government Residential School for Visually-Challenged Girls imparting lessons online to the visually-impaired students in Visakhapatnam

Highlights

  • S Anasuya Kumari, a visually-impaired Class III student, says she can absorb the content better when the teacher reads aloud and repeat them frequently
  • The outbreak of pandemic confined 53 girls studying in Government Residential School for Visually-Challenged Girls at Sagar Nagar to their homes for over six months now

Visakhapatnam: When students are used to 'touch and feel' concept of learning, absorbing the content by paying rapt attention to what teachers say and asking for a repetition if the need arises, the visually-challenged find the virtual world a little tough to embrace.

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown open a plenty of challenges for the students belonging to various sections, more so for the visually-impaired.

Though lessons imparted through AP-Vidya Varadhi platform make up for the lost school hours to an extent, staying away from the institution for months has certainly made the visually-challenged miss the classroom they were so used to otherwise. "Despite having Braille books, I am still dependent on my mother to read out lessons for me. I can absorb the content better when the teacher reads aloud and repeat them," says S Anasuya Kumari, a visually-impaired Class III student.

The outbreak of pandemic made 53 girls studying in Government Residential School for Visually-Challenged Girls at Sagar Nagar confine to their homes for over six months now. However, they get exposed to a new timetable. "In addition to the lessons taught through AP-Vidya Varadhi channel, teachers share audio lessons with students through WhatsApp groups created for each class and subject. This apart, students can get their doubts clarified by contacting the subject teachers as well," explains M Maheswara Reddy, School Principal.

Of the 53 girls studying here from Classes I to X, 25 have been grouped as a high-tech category as they have access to internet, television and smartphones. While 21 girls fall under the low-tech category where they have minimal access to online resources, the rest fall under the no-tech section as they do not have access to any technology. "In such cases, we are connecting with the neighbours' mobile numbers and following up with the students' progress. Audio lessons, subject-wise portions have already been shared. Also, children are given daily tasks to complete and told to seek support whenever they need," says SK Noorjahan, a visually-impaired trained graduate teacher of the school. As a teacher, she also favours physical classrooms over virtual ones as they facilitate intense verbal interactions between teachers and students. Though online education comes in handy in times of pandemic, the visually-challenged students need to stretch themselves to embrace technology which has now become inevitable for them.

With the online classes lasting long, some of them find the virtual shift comfortable, while others say that it is not going to replace the classroom-learning method, no matter how hard they try to get accustomed to it.

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