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e-Content for specially-abled children: Centre approves guidelines

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Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ Tuesday approved the release of the guidelines for the Development of e-Content for specially-abled children.

A comprehensive initiative, PM e-VIDYA was launched on 17th May 2020, with an aim to unify all efforts related to digital/online/on-air education. The programme interalia envisages development of special e-content for the Divyang (Children with Disabilities-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.

 

For the first time, an attempt was made to prepare guidelines for CwD also referred to as Children with Special Needs (CWSN) children so that the goal of inclusive education is fulfilled. The Committee submitted a report titled “Guidelines for the Development of e-Content for Children with Disabilities” comprising of eleven Sections and two Appendices. This report was shared, presented, discussed and accepted by the MoE.

The salient highlights of the e- content guidelines in the report are:

e-Content for CwDs should be developed based on the four principles namely: perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.

e-Content including text, tables, diagrams, visuals, audios, videos etc. should comply with accessibility standards: national standards (GIGW 2.0) and international standards (WCAG 2.1, E-Pub, DAISY  etc).

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

Reasonable pedagogical accommodations have been recommended to meet specific needs of CwDs

The technical standards and guidelines have been detailed out in Section 4 of the report.

The Committee has also recommended that in a phased manner textbooks may be adapted into Accessible Digital Textbooks (ADTs). The content of ADTs should be provided in multiple formats (text, audio, video, sign language etc) with turn-on and turn-off features. Further ADTs should provide flexibility to CwDs to respond to its content/exercises in multiple ways. The detailed guidelines for developing ADTs along with existing international and national experience, in the development of prototypes including the recent NCERT’s experience: Barkha: A Reading Series for All (in print and digital forms),  Accessible Textbooks for All and UNICEF’s “Accessible Digital Textbooks using Universal Design for Learning ( for Learners with and without  Disabilities ) have been presented in Section 5 of the report.

In addition to ADTs, in Sections 6 to 9 the Committee has recommended specific guidelines for development of supplementary e-Content as per 21 disabilities specified in the RPWD Act 2016 for students having Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Multiple Disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Specific Learning Disabilities, Blindness, low vision, Deafness and Hard of Hearing and others.