With an aim to make school education more holistic and learning accessible for children with special needs (CWSN), the Tamil Nadu education department has entered into an agreement with Indian Sign Language Association to conduct certificate programme for all special educators in government schools in the state. There are about 3,000 special educators in government schools to take care of the CWSN.
The department has also started conducting training sessions for officials and special educators on specific learning disabilities (SLD), autism, RTE and rights of persons with disability (RPWD) Acts and remedial strategies to ensure that they can deal with CWSN in a better way.
“The sign language training will enable special educators to interact in a better way with children who are mute and hearing impaired. We are focusing on training teachers and special educators as it is the best way to empower them and sensitise them to the needs of special children,” said an official.
As per the available data, during the 2021-22 academic year, 1,36,570 children with special needs (CWSN) were enrolled in government schools. The state has been providing assistive devices, mobility aids, stipends, allowances and transport facilities plus, the department has also announced a teaching at home scheme for differently-abled students.
“As part of the IALEP (Individualised academic therapeutic learning enhancement programme), at least 7,786 CWSN children have been provided home-based adaptations, therapy, medical support, counselling and mentor training,” said an official of the department.
To ensure better tracking of the progress of CWSN, a mobile application has also been developed by the department. The app will help track the progress of CWSNs and provide information related to schemes available for them. In the first phase, 2,401 special educators and therapists have been provided access to this application.
However, disability rights activists are worried about the implementation of these schemes. “The measures taken by the government for CWSN look aspirational but we need to ensure that each of the schemes is implemented in letter and spirit. More special educators must be hired for better pay so that they will take care of the kids properly,” said TMN Deepak, a disability rights activist.