In a first, SPPU to find out number of students with disabilities

After the recent High Court direction to provide facilities to students with special needs on their campuses, the university will finally start collecting this data from all its affiliated colleges

The Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU), which has more than 700 affiliated colleges in Pune, Ahmednagar and Nashik districts, does not have the exact details about how many students with disabilities study in these colleges. It does not even know how many students with disabilities are there on its own campus. Against the backdrop of a recent Bombay High Court direction giving instructions to colleges to provide a barrier free environment to disabled students, for the first time, SPPU will collect data to find the exact number of students with special needs.

Pune University
Dr Sanjaykumar Dalvi, director of students’ welfare department of the university says they have recently built a toilet for disabled students and they also have a separate centre for them. File pic

SPPU’s student welfare department has directed all affiliated colleges to immediately send them information about disabled students. Dr Sanjaykumar Dalvi, director of students’ welfare department of SPPU, said, “We have asked every college to provide detailed information of students in various disabled categories — visually impaired, deaf and mute, etc — in a specific table format. Once we receive this data from colleges, by analysing it, we will come up with a plan to resolve various problems faced by them. Our first priority will be to provide exam-oriented help to these students.”

Akanksha Kale, who is currently pursuing chartered accountancy, had moved the Bombay High Court and filed a writ petition in September 2014, finding lack of facilities for disabled students in the college where she was supposed to appear for CA intermediate exams.

The HC’s order, dated October 30, which has clear directions to SPPU reads, ‘We direct respondent no 6 — University of Pune to issue general instructions to all the colleges, educational institutions, examination centres and concerned departments to provide barrier free environment to students with disabilities, viz —ramp facilities, lift, washroom facilities to accommodate wheelchairs, etc.’

Following HC orders SPPU had issued a circular on its website about providing facilities to handicapped students on November 17. However, as a precautionary measure, SPPU also decided to collect data to ascertain the exact number of students with disabilities.

Sanjay Kharat, principal of Modern College, said, “For the first time, varsity has us asked to submit such details. Incidentally, last year itself we received instructions from the joint director of education about providing facilities to disabled.”
He added, “My college has already placed ramps and provided lift facility for the students. Currently, we have two students with disabilities.”

On the other hand, SPPU, which has already instructed colleges to provide necessary facilities to these students, lacks them on its campus. “The varsity has recently built a toilet near its main building with a ramp and other facilities. Besides that, SPPU has a separate centre for students with disabilities,” Dalvi said. However, besides this recently built toilet, there is no other facility available on the 411 acres of SPPU campus.

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