IIM Calcutta takes the extra effort to support Differently Abled Students
Come next term, IIM Calcutta is gearing to go quite a few steps ahead in supporting the Differently Abled students of its flagship MBA program. The institute is in talks with Webel, a non-profit government organization, to set up a centre for differently abled students. This centre aims at providing adequate support to these students primarily from the perspective of academics. The centre will jointly be managed by IIM Calcutta staff and a representation from Webel who has expertise in handling issues related to this section of students. This contract with Webel which is in the negotiations stage will initially serve the visually challenged students and subsequently cover students facing other challenges too.
Currently the institute ensures all differently abled candidates get accommodation in the hostel which is closest to the academic buildings and provides transport to them during the prime hours of functioning. Visually challenged students receive scribe support during exams and smart readers and magnifiers for assistance during classes. The institute’s library is equipped with software to convert any book/material to audio-format so as to be convenient for the concerned students. When the new contract will be in place, these features will be better enhanced. There will be licensed software, Job Access with Speech (JAWS), which will be used for book to voice conversion. This will ensure minimum errors during conversion and enable more efficient conversion of graphs. Further regular quality checks on the end products of this process will be done by this Centre. Also as part of this initiative a pilot program of dedicating a scribe to be present in the class for first year students is proposed. This scribe takes down class notes and converts it into PDFs for the visually challenged students to access.
We all understand the importance of diversity in a premier business school. Encouraging students from various backgrounds to come into these B-schools in itself is not sufficient. Once inside they have to be given the scope and support to bring out their strengths on the table and contribute to the diversity of the campus. IIM Calcutta’s initiative towards setting up a separate centre is a healthy way to benefit students facing different challenges.