World’s first engineering college for blind soon

HYDERABAD: The students are waiting and the software and syllabus is ready for the world’s first engineering college for the visually impaired, but a search for suitable land to set up the multi-crore campus that could empower hundreds of special children is where the project is stuck.

An ambitious blueprint to set up an engineering college by the Devnar Foundation, with help from professors of BITS Pilani, along with 20 different digital and Braille software and initial funding arrangement is however ready.

Andhra Pradesh has a caseload of 10,000 visually impaired children below 10 years and only 2,000 manage to go to a special school, a scenario which reflects a nationwide issue, prompted Devnar Foundation, which also runs the world’s biggest blind school to do more.

Since eight students from their school completed engineering from mainstream engineering colleges and one doing further studies in Boston, USA, Devnar’s ophthalmologist founder A Sai Baba Goud decided to propose setting up an engineering college. Goud says visually challenged students often encounter pervasive and ongoing discrimination and lack of facilities. It is due to the same reason why only a meagre figure is enrolled in schools in the state.

Despite being visually challenged, such students are brilliant with recent instances of people clearing chartered accountancy and going for higher studies in the US.

Andhra Pradesh has the highest number of engineering colleges in the country with the total number crossing 700. But not a single college is customized to cater to the needs of the differently-abled.

“We need a small plot of about 2-3 acres. We have told the government that we have donors ready to help and also the faculty to teach,” said Goud.

Goud said he is ready with the syllabus and required softwares and authorities have identified land in Mahindra Hills in Secunderabad and have intimated the same to the government.

He said getting affiliation from both Jawaharlal Nehru Technical University and BITS, Pilani won’t be difficult. “But lack of land is the major stumbling block for the project,” said Goud.

“Many students are enthusiastic and eager to study after intermediate but they have problems in mainstream colleges,” he added.

The move had rekindled hopes of hundreds of parents who dreamt of seeing their sons and daughters holding the coveted engineering degrees despite their disability.

The Devnar School for Blind has been offering English medium education right from primary school up to intermediate, and has been shaping lives of hundreds of students who are challenged by vision loss ever since 1992.

Currently, there is not a single college for the blind offering courses in engineering. The school authorities say that if they start a college in Hyderabad, not just locals but also those from other parts of the country will get a chance to fulfill their cherished dreams.

“It is a big dream for us to provide some attention to thousands of children with astoundingtalent, but no one to take care of them,” said Goud.