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HC asks Maharashtra govt about steps taken to telecast educational programmes for disabled students

After the state government submitted that it did not have sufficient funds to telecast educational videos in sign language through TV programmes and on YouTube for children with special needs, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday sought reply from the Maharashtra government and the Centre as to how the decision for funding and securing time slots on Doordarshan and other platforms for such programmes can be implemented.

A division bench of Chief Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya and Justice Amit Borkar was hearing two PILs filed by NGO Anamprem and Dr Kalyani N Mandke, argued through advocate Uday Warunjikar, seeking relief for specially-abled school and college students by implementing provisions of Right to Persons with Disability Act, 2016.

The PILs also sought direction to the authorities to come up with new learning methods for children with special needs through electronic medium. They further sought that a structured recovery programme be formulated for the next three years for both regular and children with special needs, who suffered during the pandemic and to collectively decide guidelines for teachers to fill the learning gap.

The bench noted that the state social justice department had informed that certain decisions were taken to strengthen education for specially abled students and it had decided to reserve a time slot on Doordarshan (for hearing impaired) and Akashwani (visually impaired) to broadcast educational programmes for them. It was decided that the DD Sahyadri channel shall broadcast such programmes throughout the state for two hours in the morning and evening and such videos should contain sign language interpreters to make it accessible for hearing-impaired students.

The government also stated that total expenses for creating and broadcasting such programmes were nearly Rs. 4 crore and as no funds are available for the same, it would need funds from the Central government.

The state government also claimed that availability of time slots for such programmes was also a challenge. The government affidavit stated that the television telecast has disadvantages that if hearing impaired students miss a programme, they cannot watch it again. Therefore, a better option has to be provided through education videos on YouTube, which can be seen frequently as per their convenience but no funds are available for such purpose, it added.

The court then directed the state government to file a fresh affidavit within six weeks stating what steps it had taken to implement decisions taken on August 10, 2021. It also sought an affidavit of the concerned ministry of the central government, detailing how the said decisions can be implemented. Indian Express

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