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Blind students struggling during exams due to lack of support
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 23 - 12 - 2014

Fatima Muhammad
Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — As school and university students prepare for their mid-term exams and spend the majority of their time for studying, blind students have to carry an extra burden.
They also have to recruit individuals who are willing to read out the exam questions and write down their answers.
This has led to many parents calling for exams to be provided in Braille, not only to make it easier for their children but also because hiring individuals to read the papers out might demand expensive fees.
They also said books should be written in Braille. Rawia Housa, mother of a blind university student, complained blind students struggle because the exams are not provided to them in Braille.
She said: “Put yourself in their shoes; imagine you have studied well and spent all that time reviewing your books, but on the day of the exam you cannot write your answers on the paper.
Someone has to read and write it for you.” Housa added the real disability is not that of the body but of the mind.
“They can overcome all challenges if they are provided with the tools. We hope that exams are provided in Braille soon.”
A parent of two blind children who spoke anonymously demanded that blind students be allowed to register in different specializations rather than be restricted to studying theoretical material.
“Our children are capable of studying diver specializations,” he said, explaining blind students can only listen to lectures but are not provided with suitable books.
This drives them to seek specialized books on their own expense. He also called for including blind students in scholarship programs.
Muhammad Ballo, head of the Ibsar Association for Visually Impaired Individuals, said the real struggle of these students is that schools and universities do not provide exams for them in Braille.
“There are now some people who are devoting their time to read and write for blind people but are taking it as a job and demanding high fees for this service.”
Ballo called for a center to be provided for people with special needs and to recruit specialized people to serve different kinds of disabled individuals.
“Educating the disabled should be based on a strategic plan provided by education ministries and not based on personal initiatives. ”
The lack of an initiative to provide necessary tools and ease challenges for blind students drives many of them to stop their education, said Ballo.
“Not only that, but they also stop socializing and develop psychological problems.”

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