The disabled find an ally in varsity

Millions of disabled in the city live as second-class citizens owing to lack of awareness among the masses who think a reserved coach in the local trains is the best the society can do for its less fortunate brethren. Thankfully, help is at hand. The Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped, in partnership with the Department of Communication and Journalism (DCJ), Mumbai University (MU), is starting a programme on disability communication.

"Currently, no training is available in India on disability communication for professionals in media, PR, advertising, NGOs and government organisations. Awareness of disability issues is very low in India, even among families of the disabled. Again, while the information is present, it is not available. Hence, the need for this programme," said PJ Mathew Martin, media officer, outreach department, Ali Yavar institute. The institute is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India.

The one-year postgraduate diploma in media and disability communication, a first-of-its kind in the country, will commence from the 2009-10 academic session. While the academic council and the management council of the MUhave passed the proposal, an agreement will soon be signed between the institute and DCJ.

"We will provide expertise in disability and DCJ will provide support and expertise in communication. We can also have value additions as part of this programme like learning how to create web access for the blind, or learning captioning for the deaf," said R Rangasayee, director, Ali Yavar institute.

"The curriculum will encompass disability law, human rights, communication theory and content making — including films, television, print media, radio programming and advertisements," said Sanjay Ranade, head of DCJ.

While the first batch is to have a strength of 30, students from DCJ will also be a part of it. Candidates will get a joint certification from the institute and DCJ.

As a prelude, the Ali Yavar institute, in collaboration with DCJ, is conducting a five-day orientation programme (March 2-6). "Around 21 students from DCJare a part of this training. It will enable them to become trainers or resource persons for the programme," said Ranade.

Mihika Basu/ DNA-Daily News & Analysis Source: 3D Syndication