In an effort to help the speech and hearing impaired children studying in a school run by it with their studies, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee has started online classes by providing them smartphones and internet, said officials of one of the premier institutes in the country.
The step was taken by IIT Roorkee’s Anushruti Academy for the Deaf (AAD) which is a school run by it on its campus as a social initiative for the hearing and speech impaired children hailing from marginalised sections of the society.
The school which has a total of about 95 children from nursery to class 10 was established in November 1989.
Rajat Agarwal, professor at IIT Roorkee and joint manager at AAD said, “Our institute is the only one among all the IITs and NITs which runs a school for special children. We teach the hearing and speech impaired children from economically weaker families in Haridwar and nearby districts of Uttar Pradesh. But after this lockdown, their classes were also hampered like other education institutes. As a result, we decided to start online classes for them.”
Agarwal said, “Initially we had faced some problems as some of the families of the children didn’t have smartphones and even if any had, they didn’t have money for internet data packs. As a solution, we arranged smartphones and internet for them and initiated the classes.”
The professor said that under the initiative, the instructors of the school first send their lessons to the parents’ smartphones and then give online classes at a fixed time-table.
“The instructors first send their lessons in written form to the parents so that they can make them understand their children. After that, at a fixed time-table of two hours classes, the instructors then give their lessons on Whatsapp video calls through sign languages. This helps them learn in both written as well sign language,” said Agarwal.
He informed that the academy is trying to give the lessons in a ‘fun and interactive way’ to the children so as to keep their interest in the classes.
“By doing so we want to make the children interested in such classes or else they would think that this is something which is forced upon them. To keep it more interactive, we also give lessons on skills like gardening, drawing and cooking as per their age. This has generated quite an interest among them as their parents tell us in their positive feedback,” said Agarwal.
He said, “We will continue the effort till the situation normalises. We don’t want their studies to suffer as they too have all the right to learn through online classes like others are doing in the lockdown.”