Expert Talk on Inclusion for Persons with Disability in Higher Education

An expert talk on Inclusion of Persons with Disability in Higher Education was delivered by Dr. Homiyar Mobedji as part of the C20 Education and Digital Transformation working group on 28 June at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Amritapuri campus. One of the key themes undertaken by the EDT working group is towards making education at all levels more inclusive and accessible for persons with disabilities.

Dr. Prema Nedungadi—Associate Dean, Amrita School of Computing; Director, Amrita CREATE; and Civil 20 India EDT Coordinator—introduced and welcomed Dr. Homiyar Mobedji, a thought leader in the disability sector. Dr. Mobedji, through his work as a disability expert, and accessibility consultant, works towards making education inclusive using assistive technology. Currently, he is associated with program management in the Asia and Africa region at Benetech. Benetech’s nonprofit software enables communities with social good software.

During his talk, Dr. Mobedji addressed the challenges faced by persons with a print disability. Print disability is a category of individuals who cannot access standard printed text. Any individual who, either due to disability, is not able to read or not able to comprehend or is not able to hold the book because of some dexterity issues in the hands or is not able to focus because the head position is not steady due to some disability is referred to as a print disability.

The road towards accessibility is to create awareness among all users and mainstream in-built functionalities in our technological devices. In the case of persons with disabilities he said, “Technology is a leveler… today when technology is so powerful, affordable, available, we should use technology to communicate, to learn, to gain knowledge, to do virtually everything that you might do at par with any other individual.” He advocates for early adoption of technology so that children grow up with technology.

The key to inclusion in higher education requires a systems approach beginning right from admission. It is imperative to understand the needs of students and ensure that the facilities at the institution accommodate them. Due consideration must be given to the design of learning experiences, assignments, and examinations. Being a part of the higher education system provides students a pathway and the opportunity to integrate with mainstream society.

Dr. Mobedji said, “We need to introspect, we need to understand the gap areas, start building accessible processes, inclusive processes, right from the admission” to achieve the goal of making higher education accessible.

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