University of Hyderabad (UoH) is pleased to acknowledge the financial assistance extended by Help the Blind Foundation (HBF) to the visually-impaired students studying in the University. In a brief event attended by Shri Sivaji Rao (the founder and trustee of the HBF) and Prof. Arun Agarwal (Pro-Vice Chancellor-1 of UoH [ in his capacity as the acting Vice Chancellor]), held recently, scholarships were distributed to visually-impaired students belonging to UoH, English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad (EFLU), and Koti Women’s College, Osmania University.

Mr. Annavaram, in his capacity as the Chairman In-charge of the Empowered Committee for Differently Abled Persons (ECDAP), welcomed the guests. In his opening remarks, Mr. Annavaram explained the selection process, wherein the ECDAP, UoH, played a pivotal role as facilitation Centre.

He pointed out that in a rigorous selection process that went on nearly for three months, the HBF scrutinized the educational records of the applicants, examined the certified claims for hostel fees and then shortlisted the candidates for scholarship. While a total of 20 visually-impaired students of UoH were shortlisted, 19 of them received the financial assistance, and one among the shortlisted students had to be withdrawn in the last minute as he joined the Government service subsequent to the selection process.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Arun Agarwal thanked the HBF for the laudable work they have been carrying out for the educational empowerment of visually-impaired students in the country. He expressed happiness over the fact that the HBF made a special effort to include the visually-impaired students of UoH in their scheme of things.

Prof. Agarwal then listed out some of the major initiatives of UoH aimed at meeting the special needs of differently abled students/scholars in general and of visually-impaired in particular. Various provisions and facilities that found a mention in Pro-Vice Chancellor’s address include:

a) Scribe Allowance paid to the personnel who assist visually-impaired students as scribes during their exams;

b) Reader Allowance sanctioned to visually-impaired scholars enrolled in M.Phil and Ph.D;

c) A special reading-cum-scanning unit for the visually-impaired users in the Central Library;

d) A Digital Resource Centre fully equipped with accessible softwares and assistive devices for the exclusive use of differently abled users, located in the school of Humanities;

e) A Computer Reading room for the visually-impaired located in the College of Integrated Studies;

f) Elevators installed in all major administrative and teaching blocks on the campus for an easy movement of persons with disabilities and senior citizens.

Shri Sivaji Rao of the Help the Blind Foundation in his address, outlining the objectives of the Foundation, said the donors who come forward to help the Foundation to reach its goals are the ones who deserve the real credit. He said that they could give scholarships to around 3,500 visually-impaired students across the country this year and the Foundation would not have been able to reach such a massive target without the generous financial assistance from the donors.

Appreciating the efforts of the University authorities to make the UoH a differently abled-friendly campus, Shri Sivaji Rao said that Help the Blind foundation feels proud to associate with the institution, and he suggested that the next major step for the University should be to strive for industry linkages in the areas of creating accessible infrastructure, developing assistive technologies and planning for advanced scientific research that can improve the physical conditions for persons with disabilities to lead a dignified life on par with others in society.

Dr. Sai Prasad — an active member of the ECDAP present in the meeting — offered vote of thanks to the dignitaries who graced the occasion. The meeting ended with the distribution of sanction letters and cheques, given away by Prof. Arun Agrawal and Shri. Sivaji Rao.

Report by Dr. N. Annavaram