In a unique development, University of Hyderabad (UoH), one of India’s Institutions of eminence in Higher Education and Help The Blind Foundation (HTBF), a non-governmental organisation that caters to the financial needs of college going students with Visual Impairment entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Friday, the 29th July 2002 to offer technologically oriented, employable skills for visually impaired students enrolled in various courses of the University.
The MoU between UoH and HTBF is an expression of interest by a public institution and a private charity to come together to work for the skill development and employability of one of the most marginalised groups of the country’s youth — students with visual impairment who have to struggle hard to attain even the minimum levels of college education and skill sets. Speaking on the occasion, the University Vice Chancellor Prof. B.J. Rao remarked: “the paradox of the modern society in the 21st-century is that today the technology in our hands is ready to help us be independent, but we are not forthcoming either to help ourselves or help the technology make us to be independent.” He remarked both as a caution and as an advice that it is time for organisations like HTBF to break the chain of one of imbalance between technological advancement and human empathy. Agreeing with the suggestion, the HTBF Managing Trustee Shri. Shivaji Rao listed out a series of activities his organisation has been undertaking for the employability of visually impaired youth in different parts of the country.
With the MoU now in place, HTBF and UoH will soon be launching a unique skill development training program, which is envisaged on four pillars: Education, Mobility, Employability & Training (EMET). ECDAP at the UoH will be the nodal implementing agency of the training program. It is hoped that the existing infrastructure of assistive devices and software packages set up exclusively for visually impaired students on the campus will be a backbone for the proposed EMET initiative. Shri. N. Annavaram (a faculty in the Department of sociology), and one of the proponents of the special computer lab for visually impaired housed in the university, expressed optimism that the initiative will be a model for other institutions of higher education in the country to emulate.
The MoU was signed by Dr. Devesh Nigam, Registrar, UoH and HTBF founder and Managing Trustee Shri. Shivaji Rao in the presence of Prof. B J Rao, UoH Vice Chancellor; Prof. V. Krishna, Dean, School of Humanities; Prof. S. Rajagopal (Head, Department of Biotechnology and Bioinformatics, who headed the Empowered Committee for Differently Abled Persons (ECDAP) for a period of eight years), Prof. S. Arulmozi (currently the Chairperson, ECDAP), and a few other faculty and officials of the University.