Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal on Tuesday approved the release of guidelines for the development of e-content for children with disabilities. The aim of the guidelines is to fulfil the goal of inclusive education.

“The programme envisages development of special e-content for visually and hearing impaired students, along with extensive use of radio, community radio and podcasts and the uploading of QR coded energised digital textbooks for grades 1 to 12 on DIKSHA portal,” said the guidelines.

Four principles

They said that e-Content for Children with Disabilities (CwDs) should be developed based on the four principles of perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. E-content, including text, tables, diagrams, visuals, audios, videos, etc., should comply with accessibility standards, national and international.

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The guidelines further stressed that distribution platforms on which content is uploaded (e.g. DIKSHA) and reading platforms/devices on which content is accessed and interacted (e.g. e- pathshala) must comply with technical standards.

High-quality content

As per 2011 Census, there were 26.8 million persons with disability (divyangjan) in India, which corresponded to 2.21 per cent of the total population of 1.2 billion. Out of the total 26.8 million Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), only 14.7 million (55 per cent) were literate and 12.2 million (45 per cent) were illiterate. It is also possible that many cases of not attending school and disabilities are not reported during census due to societal pressures.

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“A comprehensive initiative, PM e-VIDYA was launched on May 17, 2020, with an aim to unify all efforts related to digital/online/on-air education. The programme envisages development of special e-content for the Divyang (CwDs). In pursuance of this vision, the Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education, had constituted a Committee of experts, for recommending guidelines for developing e-content for these children,” said the official statement.

Reasonable pedagogical accommodations have been recommended to meet specific needs of CwDs. At the beginning of each section/topic, provide an introduction to the topic in the mother tongue/dominant language and sign language to arouse curiosity and make reading interesting. It is also suggested that acronyms should be avoided whenever possible.

“These guidelines will initiate the creation of high-quality content for digital education for children with special needs. They are dynamic by nature, to be improved based on experience and advent of better technology,” said the official statement.