For carrying out exemplary work towards the cause of accessibility and ensuring a life of equality and dignity for people with disabilities, the University of Hyderabad (UoH) has been selected for the 7th NCPEDP- Mphasis Universal Design Awards 2016 under Category C: Corporates / Organizations. UoH receives the award along with other winners in this category being IndiGo, National Informatics Centre (NIC), Newz Hook, Planet Abled, and SAP Labs India Pvt. Ltd.
UoH is the only University and Education Institution to receive the award this year. Reacting to the award Prof. P Appa Rao, Vice-Chancellor, UoH said, “It is heartening to learn that UoH is chosen for the Mphasis Universal Design Awards this year. We would continue our efforts creating a barrier free campus for the differently abled people. The credit for this award for goes to the team lead by Dr S Rajagopal and Sri Annavaram for their advise to the University.”
Dr. S. Rajgopal, a Life Science Faculty and Chairman of the Empowered committee for Differently Abled Persons (ECDAP) says, “University of Hyderabad has been receiving a bouquet of awards and honours from divergent quarters over the last one year in particular, reflecting the institutional excellence in major spheres of civic life. But this recognition jointly accorded to UoH by a reputed International Non-Governmental Organisation (NCPEDP) and a Multi-National Corporation known for leading business solutions (Mphasis) is very special to us because it speaks volumes about the invisible work we at the University have been dutifully carrying out for the benefit of students with special needs, a community most marginalized in our society and highly neglected in our higher education system.” This award brings a boost to the committee (ECDAP) to progress more in development of many schemes for welfare of these students, he added.
National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), in association with Access Ability and Barrier Break, and with the support of Mphasis, instituted The NCPEDP – Mphasis Universal Design Awards in 2010.
The Awards covers accessibility in the following fields:
Information and Communication Technology
Aids and Appliances
The awards are given under three categories: Category A: Persons with Disabilities; Category B: Working Professionals and Category C: Companies /Organisations.
Prof. Ramakrishna Ramaswamy, former Vice-Chancellor in the year 2012-13 took the initiative of making the campus disabled-friendly. As a consequence of this, a disability audit was conducted on the campus by Ms. Shivani Gupta of Access Ability, New Delhi. This was done for the first time by a Central University and the proposal sent by UoH was approved by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India. A Grant-in-Aid of nearly 6 crores was given for creation of Barrier-Free Environment and other facilities for persons with disabilities. This grant has come under the schemes arising out of the implementation of persons with disabilities (Equal Opportunities Protection of Rights and Full Participation Act, 1995-SIPDA). The grant given is being utilized for installing 18 lifts in fifteen buildings on the campus. Each lift is being fitted to accommodate wheel chairs in accordance with the Bureau of Indian Standards. Other fittings like auditory signals, Braille signings and accessible control panels and other works relating to creation of Barrier-Free Environment and other facilities for persons with disabilities are also undertaken.
Facilities provided at the University
The University of Hyderabad with a specific mandate to cater to the educational needs of the most marginalized sections of the society remains highly sensitive to the special requirements of all students and staff coming from diverse backgrounds. The differently abled persons have the major services currently being offered to them are Accessible Library Services:– Indira Gandhi Central Library has a special unit where computers installed with Screen-reading and OCR Softwares are made readily available for the visually-impaired users. We have provided flatbed document scanners, along with a couple of Zumax Machines, facilitating the visually-challenged users to scan the required texts and to convert them in accessible text formats; Free Supply of Assistive Devices:– the University makes available from time to time such assistive devices as are potentially helpful for differently abled persons in accomplishing their day-to-day tasks like Angel Pocket Readers – devices that are designed specifically to meet the audio-recording, MP3 playing and reading needs on fly; Provision for Personal Computers (PCs) and the Special Software Packages:– With the sole aim of ensuring that the differently abled students/scholars are self reliant and more competent in their scholastic activities, University of Hyderabad is now providing each differently abled student with a PC installed with special Softwares such as JAWS, Kurzweil etc.; Exam Facilities:– All those students who face difficulty in giving their written exams directly either due to non-functional eye sight, to employ scribes to take dictation from them and complete the written exam without any hassle; Preferential Treatment in The Allotment of Hostel Accommodation:– we ensure as practicable as possible that each differently abled student/research scholar enrolled in the University is duly accommodated in one of our hostels best known for accessibility; Provision for Flexi Transportation:– The University is located in an area of around 2,000 Acres, and the institutional spaces within the campus are quite sparsely distributed. We, therefore, run bus and shuttle services for the benefit of free and timely commutation. The University has made a separate arrangement for the differently abled commuters wherein they are offered a pick-and-drop facility at their convenience; Barrier Free Environment:– Efforts in the direction of creating barrier free environment are now being made on a war foot basis. The University got the whole campus subjected to an accessibility audit by a Delhi-based Accessibility Consultancy Firm. A specially constituted cell in the Engineering Department of the University has already prepared a blue print for the implementation of the recommendations submitted by the accessibility consultant. This is a work in progress, and we are sure of ensuring the minimum accessibility of major pathways, hostels and other institutional spaces such as Schools, Departments, Special Centers and Administrative block in a short time; Special Treatment of Women with disabilities:– the university is little more sensitive about the safety requirements of girl students/scholars with disabilities. To assist the differently abled girl students/scholars, the University has appointed two lady caretakers who are readily available on 24-hour basis. These lady caretakers assist the girl students in commuting to the classrooms, in moving in and around the campus, in accessing the hostel services such as the dining and other recreational facilities; Extracurricular Activities:– as the University attracts the highly talented pool of differently abled youngsters, it ensures that these boys and girls will continue to excel in their fields of interest along with their regular studies. In this regard, UoH periodically conduct cricket matches for the visually-challenged (who generally play using a soundball), make available a complete special cricket kit for all the interested players, etc. To encourage the musical talents especially among the visually-challenged, the university purchased Dolak, Kanjeera, Yamaha Musical Key Board and made them readily available for the interested ones and more importantly Institutional Mechanism:– In order to oversee the proper and timely delivery of all the services briefly mentioned above, the university constituted expert body ‘Empowered committee for Differently Abled Persons (ECDAP)’ provides round-the-clock services for the differently abled inmates and periodically reviews the services/benefits currently under offer.