Skill Development Workshop for visually impaired teachers in Tiruchi

Tiruchirapalli : A five-day skills development workshop in computer literacy and yoga for 35 visually challenged teachers with the aim of helping them adapt to a more inclusive pedagogy got under way in the city on Wednesday.

The workshop was organised by Jagajothi Reading Circle for the Visually Challenged, a voluntary organisation, in association with Srimad Andavan Arts and Science College and Vivekananda Yoga Centre. It is scheduled to end on May 22. The Srirangam-based Srimad Andavan College will be hosting the participants on its campus for the duration of the workshop.

Besides Tiruchi, teachers (21 men and 14 women) have come from places like Virudhunagar, Ariyamangalam, and Athur, with their laptops which were uploaded with the open source screen reader software Non-Visual Desktop Access (NVDA) courtesy Jagajothi Reading Circle.

On Monday, the workshop was inaugurated at Srimad Andavan College with a one-hour session of yoga exercises from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. This was followed by a preliminary assessment of the participants’ computing skills by experts from Chennai. They were divided into three groups for personalized instruction.

“Equipping visually impaired educators with computer skills will give them an opportunity to apply for teaching jobs on par with sighted candidates,” said Abdul Jaffar, a visually challenged history teacher and founding member of Jagajothi Reading Circle. “We decided to add yoga lessons because many visually challenged teachers are forced into a sedentary lifestyle and they find it difficult to physically control the children in class,” he added.

Invitees to the inaugural ceremony included V. Nandakumar, Joint Commissioner of Income Tax, Indian Revenue Service (IRS) as chief guest, and A. Krishnamoorthy, Librarian, District Central Library.

Jagajothi Reading Circle for the Visually Challenged was launched in August 2015 to provide reading and scribe services by sighted volunteers, under the guidance of veteran scribe Prabha Venkatraman. The group has created a database of audio textbooks and offers a live reading service for school and college students, besides scribe assistance for written exams.

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