What is the CBSE?
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is a Board of Education for public and private schools, under the Union Government of India. Many schools approved by the Central Government, like the Kendriya Vidyalayas, are governed by the CBSE.
The CBSE has had guidelines in place since 2008 on Inclusive Education and accommodation of children with disabilities, with the direction that the same be implemented at the primary level of education. It provides for examination concessions and alterations in the syllabus and teaching methodology for students with disabilities.
Which disabilities does the CBSE provide provisions for?
Benefits are given to children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), cerebral palsy, or are visually impaired, physically handicapped, dyslexic, or other categories defined in the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995. It also covers children with mental retardation, mental illness, children cured of leprosy, children who are hearing impaired.
What are the concessions provided by the CBSE for children with disabilities?
At the time of Admission
The guidelines for inclusive education of children with disabilities mandate schools to ensure that no child with ‘special needs’ is denied admission into mainstream schooling. Schools are also mandated to monitor enrollment of disabled children in schools.
In the Classroom
The schools should modify the existing physical infrastructure and teaching methodologies to meet the needs of all children including children with special needs. To this end, by 2020, all educational institutions including hostels, libraries, laboratories and buildings have to be made barrier free and disabled friendly.
Schools are also to ensure availability of accessible study material including talking text books, reading machines and computers with speech software, adequate number of sign language interpreters, transcription services and a loop induction system for the hearing impaired.
(ii) Special Educators
All CBSE-affiliated schools are to appoint Special Educators particularly to work with students with autism, mental retardation, cerebral palsy and specific learning disabilities. These special educators may have to be qualified as per guidelines of the Rehabilitation Council of India. In addition, schools are to ensure regular in-service training of teachers in inclusive education at the elementary and secondary level.
(iii) Aid (in the form of support person) attending classes
When parents make a request, an aid i.e. an adult sitting along with the special child encouraging and motivating the child to move along with the class, should be provided.
(iv) Individual Evaluation Programmes
Individual Evaluation Programmes for students with disabilities are to be designed by a special educator. This programme would be in the form of setting specific goals for each child with special needs, based upon their appraisal by a Special Educator. Earlier guidelines have called to revisit classroom organization required for the education of children with special needs.
(v) Curriculum Concessions
Third language exemptions (Classes VI to VIII)
(a) The following categories of students are exempted from studying a third language (classes VI to VIII): Visually impaired students, students with speech and hearing impairments, students with dyslexia, students who have the impairments listed under the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995
Second language exemptions (Class X examinations)
(b) Students with disabilities recognized by the CBSE may opt for only one language (typically Hindi or English) and take other subjects as an alternative, for Class X examinations
Private Candidates (Class X and XII examinations)
(c) Students with disabilities applying as private candidates who are bonafide residents of Delhi can opt for Music, Painting, Home Science as the subjects of study, for their class X and XII examinations
Physical Education Exemptions (Class X examinations)
(d) Physiotherapy exercises will be considered equivalent to Physical and Health Education course of the Board for Class X examinations
All students with disabilities recognized by the CBSE are permitted to use a scribe. Here are the following conditions the scribe should meet:
(a) A scribe should not have obtained their qualifications in the same subject in which the candidate is appearing
(b) Students can arrange their own scribe, who can be changed at the last minute in case there is an emergency
(c) In case the school is organizing the scribe, the student has the option of meeting the scribe the day before the examination
(d) The official who acts as the ‘Centre Superintendent’ of the examination centre shall forward a report with the full particulars of the student with disability availing of the scribe facility, as well as of the scribe
(e) Candidates using scribe facilities will be accommodated in a suitable room, with a separate invigilator appointed by the Centre Superintendent
(f) The use of the scribe can be used in addition to the grant of extra time
(g) Cost: The student with disability shall not be made to pay for the services of the scribe. The Board shall pay the scribe remuneration, from time to time
(ii) Compensatory time
Students with disabilities recognized by the CBSE are permitted to avail of extra time for completing their examination paper. The extension of time depends on the length of the paper:
(a) For paper of 3 hours duration – 60 minutes
(b) For paper of 2½ hours duration – 50 minutes
(c) For paper of 2 hours duration – 40 minutes
(d) For paper of 1½ hours duration – 30 minutes
Compensatory time can be used in addition to the services of a scribe.
(iii) Special provisions for autistic children
An autistic candidate is permitted to use the services of a scribe or an adult prompter.
(iv) Special provisions for visually impaired candidates
(a) Candidates are permitted use of screen reading software (like JAWS – Job Access With Speech). The candidate needs to take prior approval of the Board for this. They can also use a computer or a typewriter for writing answers. There is no provision mandating that such software or hardware be provided by the School or Board to the student
(b) There shall be alternate questions provided where there are questions having visual inputs in the subjects of English Communicative and Social Science (Class X)
(c) Separate question papers in enlarged print are provided in the subjects of Mathematics and Science (Class X)
(d) Students shall be given separate question papers with multiple choice questions based on Practical component in lieu of practical examinations in the subjects of Physics, Chemistry and Biology
(e) Question papers administered in the subjects of Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Biology will not have any visual input
(f) There shall be alternate questions provided where there are questions having visual inputs in the subjects of History, Geography and Economics
How can your child avail of the benefits of inclusive education?
To avail of concessions offered to students with disabilities, a student must be certified. The following methods of certification are accepted:
(a) A Disability Certificate issued by government hospitals controlled by either the Central or State Governments
(b) A Disability Certificate issued by recognized institutes of national level viz National Association for the Blind, Spastic Society of India etc or
(c) A Disability Certificate issued by Non-governmental Organizations/practitioners registered with Rehabilitation Council of India/Central Government/Delhi NCT Government
How to avail of examination concessions for class X and XII?
Examination concessions are granted by the Regional Office of the CBSE which has jurisdiction over the school. To avail of examination concessions on the grounds of disability, the student must submit a request in writing along with the medical certificates and recommendation of the head of school in which they study while they are in class IX (for the Xth board exam) or class XI (for the XIIth board exam) to the school.
The School, when it receives such a request, must forward the request to the concerned Regional Office promptly and in time for the Regional Office to acknowledge and make arrangements. It would also be useful for the school, to avoid any liability in the future, to hold special awareness sessions for children with disabilities and their families to appraise them of the examination concessions and the manner in which to avail of them.
How to avail of classroom accommodations?
The circulars do not provide for a specific procedure for availing of classroom accommodations for students with disabilities. However, it would be best to submit the same with the certification required and the relevant circular to the Head of the School, and if the same is not provided for, the matter can be escalated to the Regional Office (see Grievance Redressal Mechanism below) as the circulars have provided that any school which fails to provide attention to a child with special needs or makes a pretext of denying admission to any category of a differently-abled child will be liable to stringent action even to the extent of disaffiliation.
What can you do if your child is denied these benefits?
For instances of violations of the circulars on inclusive education or non compliance by a school affiliated to the CBSE, students/parents are advised to contact the Regional Office having jurisdiction over the school. There is also a helpline 1800-11-8002 operational between 9 AM and 7 PM on working days.