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Online C.A.T. 2009 “environment friendly” but not disabled friendly

D.N.I.S. News Network, India: The Common Admission Test or C.A.T. organized by Indian Institute of Management (I.I.M.) that thousands of aspirants take every year is going online this year. But the shocking news is that the C.A.T. Committee has gone horribly wrong in both technical and conceptual aspects, despite having paid a whopping 40 million dollar contract to a company to relaunch and exclusively upgrade the website to enable students to make informed choices!

The website, www.catiim.in, fails on 11 counts of W.C.A.G. 2.0 Level A compliance and 5 counts of W.C.A.G. 2.0 Level A.A. It does not have proper heading structure, skip to content links and appropriate alternate texts which are needed for visually impaired users. Screen readers also did not identify the mathematical content on the page. The site did not have any caption or text transcript for hearing impaired users. But these are not the only problems.

Wheelchairs and hearing aids which are independent living aids for a person with disability have been added in the list of acceptable testing devices. It is almost like saying that spectacles are assistive devices! The list also includes a scribe, a human being, as an assistive device. However, actual assistive devices like screen readers, adaptive mouse, adaptive keyboards, etc are not even mentioned in the list. Another problem with online C.A.T. is that a disabled person is allowed only one assistive device.

I.I.M.s will conduct the test on a 10 day window period, starting November 28 for non disabled students while disabled students have been given only one day, December 3, for the exam. Another huge discrimination is that while non - disabled candidates are given an opportunity to select the test centre of their choice; these will be notified to disabled candidates. Disabled students also cannot reschedule their test like non - disabled candidates.

Moreover, for reasons known only to them, C.A.T. Committee does not refer to the Disability Act 1995 for defining disability and has coined its own term Differently Abled (D.A.) for people with disabilities.

N.C.P.E.D.P. has written to Satish Deodhar, Convenor, C.A.T. Committee 2009, highlighting these glaring oversights. Copy of the letter has been sent to Kapil Sibal, Minister for Human Resource Development and Mukul Wasnik, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment.

Such callousness coming from a premier institute which boasts of the best brains in the country is not only shocking but also pushes hundreds of disabled students backwards by forcing them to depend on humans even in this age of technology.

Click here to read the full Access Test Report (Excel - 234 KB)
Click here to read N.C.P.E.D.P.s letter to Convenor, C.A.T. Committee (Word - 27 KB)