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Once again a disabled student has been put to test. Well, literally.

D.N.I.S. News Network, India: Jaswinder Singh Sodhi, a first year student of Computer Engineering at Guru Nanak Dev University, Ludhiana has low vision and cerebral palsy. This restricts him from performing fine motor functions with his hands. A good performance in the C.B.S.E. board exams secured him admission in the university. “His performance in the first semester exams could have been better,” felt Jaswinder’s teachers. What did not go in his favour was the scribe allotted to him who as per the rules was a grade lower than the examinee. While this ‘rule’ is supposedly to deter disabled students from cheating so to say, it also makes it extremely difficult for them to spell out every term that the scribe is unfamiliar with. Not only does it create unnecessary stress but also wastes a lot of time of the student.

Jaswinder’s second semester exams have brought a fresh set of challenges for him and his family. The engineering drawing exams involve hand drawing which Jaswinder cannot do due to his disability. Dictating the design to be drawn to someone else would be extremely difficult. His academic life and career is now at stake. His exams are scheduled in the second week of May, 2011.

His parents Dr. R.S. Sodhi and Dr. Neelam Sodhi approached the Punjab Technical University for help, but in vain. Despite ‘Right to Education’ passed by the Parliament in 2009 and ‘Reasonable Accommodation’ guaranteed by U.N.C.P.R.D., Jaswinder has to go through many such hurdles and ‘tests’.

Jaswinder is not asking for an exemption from any exam. All he wants is an alternative. Experts say that hand drawing is as it is a bit archaic now. The world of Engineering has moved on to what is called ‘Computer Aided Design’ (C.A.D.). The whole idea of an exam is to test one’s knowledge of an issue. In Jaswinder’s case, it can be easily done by testing his drawing skills or knowledge level with the help of C.A.D. Another option experts have suggested is to give an oral or a written test in lieu of the drawing test. All these provisions would easily fall within the ambit of ‘Reasonable Accommodation’ as guaranteed to a disabled person after India’s ratification of U.N.C.P.R.D.

The Sodhis have now approached N.C.P.E.D.P. to take up the issue. N.C.P.E.D.P. has in turn written to the Ministry of Human Resource Development and All India Council for Technical Education.