Kirori Mal College is a premier constituent college of the University of Delhi known for its egalitarian ethos and inclusive pedagogical practices. We pay special attention to the need of including PwD students in the educational activities of the college with a view of providing a wholesome learning experience. We ceaselessly strive to empower them through Prayas-our enabling unit, and the Centre for Disability Research and Training.
To promote skill development amongst the students with disabilities, Prayas: the enabling unit of the college was constituted in the year 2007-08. The motto of Prayas is E.P.I.C. which is, “Empowering People with Disability in an Inclusive Campus”.
Prayas works with a threefold objective:
- To create a level playing field for PwD students.
- To spread awareness about disability and negotiate the hegemony of normalcy.
- To foster the full development of a PwD individual’s personality.
To fulfil our commitment to a level playing field, we focus on a three-pronged strategy of (a) developing accessible infrastructure (b) building support systems and (c) providing accessible technologies to our students. In the past one and half decades, the college has endeavoured to develop infrastructure on the campus with emphasis on providing and increasing accessibility. The presence of accessible ramps, tactile pathways, digital vision, braille signages, disabled- friendly toilets and wheel-chair facilities pay testimony to the college’s commitment to create an accessible and disabled-friendly civic infrastructure on campus. The installation of lifts in the main block and the library has been a great equalizer for persons with disabilities. There is a negligible fee for all the PwD students and hostel accommodation is also subsidized.
Building the functional support system is another pillar of equity which the college has worked upon over the years. The college has a Prayas Resource centre with desktops installed with JAWS, a screen reading software, for visually impaired students. Through the Prayas Resource Centre, the college provides all the PwD students with ThinkPads, pre-installed with NVDA, Braille Face, and Hindi Reader software, all of which enable the visually impaired person to operate computers and access the internet with ease.
In its commitment to providing equal opportunity for all PwDs, Kirori Mal College has introduced the unique Digital Vision (DV) technology which provides navigation orientation and classroom-specific information as well as other crucial instructions in audio format to help students move independently on college premises.
Any support system or technological know-how is incomplete without the availability of a vibrant human support system. Today, over 75 dedicated students work tirelessly through the year to provide the PwD students of the college with an effective academic support system with the aim of assisting them in reading prescribed texts, writing assignments, aiding internal assessment, and catering to other academic needs of the students. All these activities have helped in the creation of a level playing field for all our students with special needs.
The hegemony of normalcy can only be challenged by spreading awareness about disability. The instruments of such sensitization campaigns have been orientation programmes, talks and panel discussions, street play, movie screenings, celebrating White Cane Day and simulation workshops among others. The college has been at the forefront of inviting speakers with the desired qualities. Padam Shri Dr Uma Tuli, of the Amar Jyoti Charitable trust, George Abraham, founder of Score Foundation, Dr Kamlesh Kumar. Gautam, Chief Commissioner of Disability, GOI, Mr Deependra Manocha, Managing Trustee of the Saksham Trust, Ms Madhubala, Senior Facilitator at IBM Concentrix, are eminent names who have been associated with the college.
We celebrate World White Cane Day on the 15th of October each year to promote an inclusive atmosphere on the college campus. On this occasion the sighted students are blindfolded and made to find their way through the college with the help of a cane and are made to perform various activities like walking, running, playing cricket and operating the computer with blindfolds on with the aim of sensitizing non-disabled people and generating in them a sense of empathy and awareness about the challenges of a person with a disability.
The personality of the individual is shaped by the curricular and extracurricular activities that they undertake. Since 2007, Prayas has been organizing an annual inter-college, inter-university inclusive cultural fest called ‘Lehar’. This event is an attempt to provide both the disabled and non-disabled students of the college a chance to interact with eminent personalities in the field of disability. Prayas conducts a Freshers’ Talent Show for both its volunteers and PwD students, allowing them to showcase their talents.
As consequence of the institution’s concerted efforts, our para-athletes have won many laurels not only at the college and university levels but also at the state, national, and international levels. Mr. Yogesh Kathuniya winning the silver medal in the men’s discus throw and Sharad Kumar winning the bronze medal in Tokyo Paralympics 2021, are testimonies to hard work and have made us proud.
The college has set up a Centre for Disability Research and Training (CDRT) to encourage academic engagement and development with disability and promote Disability Studies as a valid field of academic inquiry. The Centre provides the students with a unique opportunity to deepen their understanding of disability and partake in the process of spreading social awareness of the phenomena in the hope of effecting an attitudinal change in society.
Kirori Mal College, in collaboration with St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, has initiated SHAMIL (Services Harnessing Accessibility Models to Inclusive Learning) with the objective of inclusive education, need-based assessment and training, and a credit-based academic Programme among other deliverables.
The college has also collaborated with Saksham an NGO, on another initiative called Aarohan for creating a level-playing field for students with blindness and low vision by providing reasonable accommodation based on their need-assessment. The college through such NGOs and philanthropists has provided the assistive devices, namely, digital recorders, tablets, refreshable braille display, laptops, tabs etc. to its PwD students.
Prayas and CDRT are together breaking the ableist barrier by questioning the hegemony of normalcy and empowering people with disability on campus, making KMC, a true exemplar of inclusive education.