National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR) University of Law, Hyderabad has launched the NALSAR Accessibility Lab for students with visual impairment, low vision disability and students with hearing impairment and low hearing disability.
The lab was sanctioned and worked on by NALSAR’s Library Committee, with inputs from the stakeholders.
The idea of the lab was mooted by Sayan Bhattacharya, a 2021 graduate of the University. However, owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, the work had been delayed. After Bhattacharya graduated, Yash Dodani from the Batch of 2024 was bestowed the responsibility to see the initiative through after taking it up with the University administration.
The lab located on the ground floor of the library is equipped with state-of-the-art technology. It consists of six systems which are equipped with 27-inch monitors, powered by i7 processors and are loaded with professional software such as JAWS, NVDA and OpenBook, which are useful for visually challenged students. In addition to this, the University also has a functional Pearl Scanner as well as a Braille printer for the benefit of its students.
The lab was inaugurated by Vice-Chancellor Prof Faizan Mustafa and Registrar Prof V Balakista Reddy on July 28, in the presence of other dignitaries. The Library Committee is now working on further projects, including the implementation of the NALSAR Accessibility Audit Report as a pilot project, in order to make NALSAR inclusive and accessible to all.
Thanking the valuable support from various stakeholders, Rithvik DGV and Yash Dodani said,
“We thank the Library Committee (Dr. KVK Santhy and other members of the Library Committee), SBC Academic Committee (DGV Rithvik and other members of the SBC Academic Committee), University Administration (Hon’ble Vice Chancellor Prof. (Dr.) Faizan Mustafa and Registrar, Hon’ble Prof. (Dr.) V. Balakista Reddy), library staff (K. Krishna and K. Somaiah), IT Department (Md. B. Irfan, Frank Kennedy and Md. Basha), the Organizing Committee for the Accessibility Lab and the student body for the inputs on the lab.”
Speaking to Bar & Bench, Dodani, a student with visual impairment at NALSAR, shared the inception of the idea of the NALSAR Accessibility Lab.
"Sayan Bhattacharya came up with this idea when he was the Scholar Development Team Leader of IDIA's Hyderabad Chapter and took inspiration from the Accessibility Lab at WBNUJS, Kolkata. We purchased some equipment in 2021, but due to COVID there was some delay in getting a place allocated for the lab. After he graduated, he handed over the responsibility to me and we got it all sorted in the month of April 2022. In June, all the equipment was put together and the lab was inaugurated yesterday."
Having experienced difficulty himself in accessing books with bigger fonts in the first semester, he said,
"Although I did eventually get assistance with the books I wanted access to, the lab will particularly help students with visual impairment in accessing material without difficulty. For students with hearing impairment as well, we will be upgrading some laptops to assist them with the required software.
Given that a lot of students with disabilities will be entering NALSAR in the near future owing to the disability reservation and other affirmative action in place for persons with disabilities on campus, and given there was not much being done on campus with respect to accessibility for disabled students, we thought this would be a good idea," he added.
A committee was also constituted for the negotiations relating to the Accessibility Lab. Its comprises Dodani, K Anand Nayak, Shrudula Murthy, Praseem Patel, Ishita Singh, Krishnam Saaboo, Nishita Sharma, Harshita Adari and Kavya Reddy.
Recently, the University introduced gender neutral rooms and washrooms in its effort to create an inclusive campus.