The NUJS Centre for Disability Rights and Equal Opportunities (CDREO) in association with IDIA West Bengal Chapter conducted a Sensitization Program on the Issues of Disability on 30th August, 2022 in the WBNUJS auditorium with the objective of promoting institutional inclusivity with respect to persons with disability. The one-day programme was open for attendance to all undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral students of the university, as well as faculty members, administrative and technical staff.
Sheikh Jiyarul Hoque, LLM Student gave the welcome address along with Ms. Malobika Sen, faculty, Disability Law and Legal System. The Vice Chancellor of WBNUJS, namely Prof. Dr. N.K. Chakrabarti, inaugurated the programme by emphasizing about the accomplishing the goal of an inclusive, and accessible environment in the WBNUJS campus. Subsequently, Dr. Tilottama Raychaudhuri, the Faculty Advisor for IDIA Accessibility Lab of WBNUJS, spoke about the IDIA founder, late Dr. Shamnad Basheer’s vision of establishing IDIA, which was aimed at enhancing accessibility and inclusivity in law schools across the country. Further, she spoke about the IDIA Accessibility Lab, a first of its kind that was established in WBNUJS for the assistance of persons with disability (visual) students in the university.
The Convenor of the CDREO spoke about the WBNUJS Disability Policy, 2022, and the crucial provisions of the said policy. This was followed by a melodious violin performance by two PWD Students of WBNUJS, namely Biswajit Shil, fourth year LLB student and Sheikh Jiyarul Hoque, LLM student and a soothing song performance by Vishwas Agarwal, a fifth-year LLB and PWD student.
Subsequently, a session with Dr. Rupali Sen, Head of the Department, and Assistant Professor, National Institute for Locomotor Disabilities (NILD), Kolkata, was held. Dr. Sen spoke about the identification and concept of disability with an approach to rehabilitation, and engaged actively with the audience by clarifying certain pertinent queries in respect of disability and rehabilitation.
After reconvening from the lunch break, the second session of the day began with Mr Bishwajit Ghosh, the former Principal of the Ramkrishna Mission Blind Boys Academy, Narendrapur. Mr Ghosh spoke about the goals and the methods ought to be followed in an inclusive academia environment, and how students with various degrees disability can practise to accommodate themselves in consonance with the society in order to become an essential part of the education system. He showed us a brief video of the experiences of the students and the facilities provided by the Blind Boys’Academy including an extensive Braille Library. He highlighted the goals of complete assimilation of PWD students into the mainstream society, and how these goals are important in the context of disability rights. He also talked about his own experiences, both as a young student with disability, and as an educator, and the inequitable access to educational resources that disabled people are often subjected to. He answered various questions about the methods to approach at a universal and accessible design in educational institutions.
Our third and final session of the day was with by Prof Vijay Kishore Tiwari, the Joint Director of the CDREO and Assistant Professor at NUJS. He talked primarily about his own experiences as a PWD professor and previously as a student, and how actual and perceived societal alienation adversely affected his life. He advised students to be proactive in building bridges and to combat discrimination against persons with disability both on and off campus. He said the goal of sensitisation ought to be the removal of any kind of discrimination subjected to PWDs and how society can fulfil its role towards reasonable accommodation. His session received various questions on the modalities of implementing the same and how he would address specific inequities in the university. With that the session came to a close.
The Vote of Thanks and closing address was delivered by Ms. Malobika Sen, who took care to thank the University, the IDIA, the CDREO, the organising committee, the speakers as well as the audience for their participation in the session, and identified it as a first step towards making NUJS a universally accessible space.