The Persons with Disabilities Act 1995 indicates that differently-abled persons should have access to education at all levels. In the higher education sector, the University Grants Commission (UGC) is supporting universities and colleges in the country to involve in special education activities to empower differently-abled persons.
The UGC had started the scheme of assistance to universities/colleges for Higher Education for Persons with Special Needs (Differently-abled Persons) (HEPSN) during the Ninth Five-Year Plan, which continued in the Tenth Plan. Keeping in view the need to provide infrastructure to differently-abled persons in higher education institutions, the scheme is extended to the Eleventh Plan too. The details of the scheme are enumerated as follows:
The HEPSN scheme is basically meant for creating an environment at the higher education institutions to enrich higher education learning experiences of differently-abled persons. Creating awareness about the capabilities of differently-abled persons, construction aimed at improving accessibility, purchase of equipment to enrich learning, etc., are the broad categories of assistance under this scheme.
The specific objectives of the HEPSN Scheme are as follows:
1. To provide equal educational opportunities to differently-abled persons in higher education institutions.
2. To create awareness among the functionaries of higher education about the specific educational needs of differently-abled persons.
3. To equip higher education institutions with the facilities to provide access to differently-abled persons.
4. To provide special devices to higher education institutions that will augment the learning experiences of differently-abled persons.
5. To monitor the implementation of all existing and future legislation and policies, which are pertaining to higher education of differently-abled persons.
Higher education institutes will be provided assistance under the HEPSN scheme when they fulfill the following conditions:
1. The college applying for grant for any one of the components of the scheme should have enrolled disabled persons, including persons with visual impairment, hearing impairment, and locomotor disability, etc., in various courses of the institute. The definitions of disability are in accordance with the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995.
2. Institutions applying for the scheme should have been approved by the UGC under Sections 2(f) and 12 B.
3. The college should have constituted an expert committee involving faculty members, experts in the field and differently-abled persons themselves. The committee should meet at least once a year to review the activities related to the concerned scheme(s).
The HEPSN scheme has three components. They are enumerated as follows:
In order to develop awareness in the higher education system and also to provide necessary guidance and counselling to differently-abled persons, it is proposed to establish resource units in colleges in the country, which will be called as Enabling Units. The functions of this Enabling Unit will be to:
1. facilitate admission of differently-abled persons in various courses;
2. provide guidance and counselling to differentlyabled individuals;
3. create awareness about the needs of differentlyabled persons, and other general issues concerning their learning; and
4. assist differently-abled graduates to gain successful employment in the public as well as private sectors.
The special unit will be coordinated by a faculty memberto be nominated by the head of the institution. He/she will work as honorary coordinator for which a token honorarium of Rs. 4000/- per month will be paid. The unit will also have a budgetary provision of Rs. 50,000/- per year towards general administration, stationery, contingencies, and to avail the services of experts and personnel for organising awareness programmes, counselling sessions, etc., for efficient and independent functioning in order to achieve its objectives.
The major functions of the Enabling Unit will be as follows:
a. To provide counselling to differently-abled students on the types of courses they could study at the higher education institutions.
b. To ensure admission of as many differently-abled students as possible through the open quota and also through the reservation meant for them.
c. To gather orders dealing with fee concessions, examination procedures, reservation policies, etc., pertaining to differently-abled persons.
d. To assess the educational needs of differently abled persons enrolled in the higher education institutes to determine the types of assistive devices to be procured.
e. To conduct awareness programmes for teachers of the institute about the approaches to teaching, evaluation procedures, etc, which they should address in the case of differently-abled students.
f. To study the aptitude of differently-abled students and assist them in getting appropriate employment when desired by them after their studies.
g. To celebrate important days pertaining to disability such as the World Disabled Day, White Cane Day, etc., in the institute and also in the neighbourhood in order to create awareness about the capabilities of differently-abled persons.
h. To ensure maintenance of special assistive devices procured by the higher education institute under the HEPSN scheme and encourage differently-abled persons to use them for enriching their learning experiences.
i. To prepare annual reports with case histories of differently-abled persons who are benefited by the HEPSN scheme sanctioned to the higher education institute.
An expert team appointed by the University Grants Commission will carry out evaluation of the functioning of the Enabling Unit from time-to-time to enrich their services to differently-abled persons.
It has been felt that differently-abled persons need special arrangements in the environment for their mobility and independent functioning. It is also a fact that many institutes have architectural barriers that disabled persons find difficult for their day-to-day functioning.
The colleges under this scheme are expected to address accessibility related issues as per the stipulations of the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995, and ensure that all existing structures as well as future construction projects in their campuses are made disabled friendly.
The institutes should create special facilities such as ramps, rails and special toilets, and make othe necessary changes to suit the special needs of differently-abled persons. For this purpose, the UGC will make a one-time grant of up to Rs.5.00 lakh per college during the Plan period. The construction plans should clearly address the accessibility issues pertaining to disability. Guidelines on accessibility laid out by the office of the Chief Commissioner of Disabilities, Government of India (website: www.ccdisabilities.nic.in ) may be followed in the case of construction and making the environment disability friendly.
Differently-abled persons require special aids and appliances for their daily functioning. These aids are available through various schemes of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. In addition to the procurement of assistive devices through these schemes, the higher education institute may also need special learning and assessment devices to help differently-abled students enrolled for higher education. In addition, visually challenged students need Readers. Availability of devices such as computers with screen reading software, low-vision aids, scanners, mobility devices, etc., in the institutes would enrich the educational experiences of differently-abled persons. Therefore, colleges are encouraged to procure such devices and provide facility of Readers for visually challenged students. The UGC will provide an ad hoc one-time grant of up to Rs. 1.50 lakh per college during the Eleventh Plan period.
1. Application for specific projects should be sent in the prescribed proforma along with College Development proposal. (ANNEXURE-E)
Procedure for release of grant
Component 1. Honorarium to coordinator and other budgetary provision @ Rs.50,000/- per year will be released for the 1st year after approval of the proposal. Subsequent grants will be released on the basis of audited utilization certificate and statement of expenditure [ANNEXURES-F(a) and F(b)].
Component 2. Grant will be released on receipt of detailed plans and estimate as per UGC building guidelines.
Component 3. 90% of the grant allocated will be released as 1st instalment and the remaining 10% on reimbursement basis, on receipt of audited statement of expenditure and utilization certificate.