The University of Delhi (DU) has announced setting up the ‘Centre for Disability Studies’ to make education and its inter-department administration more inclusive. The centre will begin with several short-term, certificate courses on Indian Sign Language (ISL) and computer skill enhancement.
“The concept of establishing the centre is based on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) 2016 Act, to create human resources and manpower in the area of disability work, at each varsity. Many Indian universities have created such related centres, however, DU presently has only a support system for disability studies. With the launch of a dedicated centre, it will act as a specialised academic institution promoting certificate courses in the early years and later research work in the area of disability studies,” says Anil Kumar Aneja, head of Equal Opportunity Cell (EOC) and professor, DU’s department of English.
The centre will empower the ongoing academic initiatives at various departments of DU. Aneja says, “Both Person with Disability (PwD) and non-PwD students will be allowed to enrol in the courses. The efforts are aligned to establish the centre and make it functional by the next year, as the process for space allocation and financial funding is underway. As and when we get the approval, we will start some skill-based certificate courses in collaboration with private organizations, civil societies, and industry experts. In the next 2-3 years, after getting UGC approval, more advanced level self-finance courses (SFCs) in various disciplines will be also provided.”
India is facing a talent crunch for ISL experts, interpreters, trainers and teachers. “Dearth of ISL professionals highlights the demand to start these courses.The centre will act as a nodal point for these courses, which will be provided by the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI),” adds Aneja.
The objective is also to offer equal opportunities to PwD people and remove preconceived notions related to them. Integrating disability studies into curricula at DU will be the first step to achieving this. Aneja says, “The long-term impact of the course offerings includes accommodation of a broader, diversified range of courses and an interdisciplinary approach, which is also the NEP’s mandate, to research on disability studies. For instance, the PG and MPhil students, who have presented research papers on disability, can pursue a PhD on the same topic, at the English or Sociology or Law departments to get a specialized understanding of selected aspects.”