Inclusion In Action: ‘Udaharans’ from Mainstream Education

The Maharashtra Dyslexia Association (MDA) organised a Panel Discussion on Inclusion In Action: ‘Udaharans’ from Mainstream Education under the C20 Education and Digital Transformation banner on April 20. The objective of the hybrid event was to highlight the best practices and examples of inclusion in mainstream education. The speakers included students, special educators, and specialists. The discussion was moderated by Ms. Kate Currawalla, Founder-President of MDA.

Ms. Neenu Kewlani, a wheelchair user since early childhood, spoke of her experiences in a mainstream school in the 1990s, which had no lift or bathroom facilities for CWDs. She also emphasised the need for including PwDs in decision-making bodies and policy planning regarding people with disabilities at every level, to ensure that their felt needs are met.

Ms. Rameeza Khan, Head of Skill Enhancement at Bai A. F. Petit Girls’ High School, emphasised early screening and identification of students with physical and intellectual challenges, guidance and support, learning support, remedial education, advocacy for accommodations, a parallel programme in senior classes, counselling, and crisis counselling.

Ms Ila Shah, Head of Special Educational Needs at Muktangan Group of Schools, also stressed the importance of early identification. She added that parents must be counselled and guided through the diagnostic and certification process, as well as directed to support services provided by partner CSOs.

Mr. Ketan Kothari spoke about the initiative led by St Xavier’s College, an autonomous Deemed University in Mumbai. St Xavier’s College has a decades-long history of inclusion, admitting students with visual impairment and creating a supportive environment that eventually developed into a full-fledged programme known as the Xavier’s Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged.

He added that the Centre is a replicable model designed to scale up in all parts of the country. It focuses on developing content for students with visual, auditory, and neurological challenges, using assistive technology, advocating for changes in copyright laws, expanding access to subjects, and offering consultancy and stakeholder training.

Ms. Devyani Goud, a Freelance Digital Marketer and former student of B.A.F. Petit Girls’ High School, and Ms. Yoishtaa Umriger, a student at St. Xavier’s College, shared their lived experiences and emphasised how reasonable accommodations in mainstream education helped them excel.

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