[AI] Policy urgent

Rajesh Asudani rajeshasudani at rbi.org.in
Mon Feb 18 04:21:13 EST 2008

The policy is surely comprehensive and well drafted.

However, I am reproducing some paras below with suggestions embeded in brackets within those paras themselves:

Limiting a candidate's choice of a Scribe on grounds of age, capabilities, qualifications, level of education or marks scored  ...[even on gender]...is actually unfair and prejudices the candidate. It is for the Examining Authority to take care of supervision as stated in 6 hereinabove.

a. In case the candidate avails the services of his/her own scribe/writer, the scribe/writer   should be one grade junior in academic qualification than the candidate if from the same stream.  However, this condition shall not apply if the scribe/writer is from a different stream, ....[or the exam being conducted is an internal examination of a school.]]

ii.          In any case, the time interval between when such a scribe ceased to be a student himself/herself and the time he/she is acting as a scribe should not be more than three years, because with the lapse of time, natural abilities of a student like writing speed, taking dictation and writing an examination efficiently in a specified time frame, suffer a considerable decline. However strict adherence to this requirement cannot be stretched beyond a logical point. .....[why not? and, what is the logical point restraining the implementation of such provision?, it is only fair that only students are incorporated in the pannel of scribes, if such a thing ever takes place, firstly because of reasons of decline in examination capacities of non students, and secondly to dispell the misconception resulting from giving lecturers etc. as scribes that blind students do receive an undue advantage.]]



-----Original Message-----
From: accessindia-bounces at accessindia.org.in [mailto:accessindia-bounces at accessindia.org.in] On Behalf Of Pamnani
Sent: Monday, February 18, 2008 1:26 PM
To: accessindia at accessindia.org.in
Subject: [AI] Policy urgent

I hope this Policy is Ok with everyone. if not then please call me on 9821013644 urgently.
The Policy for Examination of the Disabled

The Policy for the Examination of the Disabled envisages a tension free environment for the Disabled before, during and after the Examination.           It is time that India had a comprehensive, standard but dynamic policy for examination of the Disabled.

The need for a standard and comprehensive Policy throughout India for the examination of the Disabled has been growing since:

  a.. Every year more and more Disabled candidates are appearing for various examinations.
  b.. The kind of Disability that has to be considered has also been increasing over the years.
  c.. Number of examining bodies has been increasing over the years

  a.. Various orders/judgments/directions have been passed by various Courts/Commissions/Authorities that deal with the problem in piecemeal.

  a.. Various examination conducting authorities have different rules and/or implement the rules in different ways.

  a.. Technology is improving and needs to be taken into account

  a.. The anxiety suffered by the examinees before and during the examination has to be removed

  a.. Questions asked at written examinations and the examinations themselves are varied and need to be answered in various ways.

  a.. Competition is increasing and the Disabled have to be given a level playing field.

1. Comprehensive

Looking at the needs of each Disability, the Policy must cover as many issues as possible and not leave any ambiguities and lacuna. Basically it has to cover all questions raised by the officials of the Examining authority who tend to harangue the candidates just before the examinations.

2. Flexible and Dynamic

The implementers of the Policy have to be able to adapt to the situation. There may be a need to change the Scribe at the last minute or a Disability may arise while the exam Schedule is on for eg. A candidate may fracture his hand while returning from a paper and may need the use of a Scribe for the remaining papers. Also technology is evolving and needs to be taken into account. The discretion of the officials of the Examining authority has to be exercised keeping the best interest of the candidate in mind.

This Policy must be reviewed periodically after recording the experience of all concerned.

3. All Examinations

This Policy will apply to all examinations being conducted in India generally and specifically to examinations conducted by Educational institutions- schools and  colleges (both internal and external), School and College Boards, universities and deemed universities, autonomous bodies conducting entrance or promotional examinations as well as all recruiting/promoting  authorities and any other authorities or bodies under which a Disabled examinee wishes to appear for an examination for any purpose whatsoever.

The categorization of exams into exams conducted by educational institutions and competitive exams is uncalled for. However there may be specific requirements of each exam and these have been addressed in this Policy.

4. Need for the facility of a Scribe

In a country like India which envisages for its citizen's equality of opportunity, allows its Disabled to take exams but has denied on several occasions its disabled examinees the use of a Scribe. This denial has let to anomalous situations where a visually disabled examinee has been allowed to appear in an examination but has not been allowed the use of the scribe thereby effectively denying the visually disabled to appear in the examination and better his prospects. The humanitarian and logical aspect of providing a facility of a Scribe should not have been required to be spelt out however since the ground level situation is such that the Disabled have been discriminated against on such basic issues even this needs to be clearly documented.

5. Entitled

Categorizing of the Disabled persons who will be entitled to get the facilities of a Scribe could be standardized to some extent.

However there has to be some flexibility depending on the requirement of a candidate.

Certain disabled persons like the totaled blind would definitely need the use of a Scribe however others may just need some adjustment or concession example large font or adjustment of the microscope during practical exams or graph papers with larger squares.

 Therefore to make an exhaustive list of the disabled who will be allowed use of a Scribe is not possible. The list of the disabled must be an inclusive list and should give the examining authority discretion to include other persons but not to disallow persons mentioned on the list. It may not   be proper to lay down iron clad rigid rules in terms of percent with disability that will be allowed Scribe.

Learning Disabled candidates have been allowed the use of a Scribe and other concessions by the State of Maharashtra.

6.  Supervision

The examining authorities are duty bound to ensure that no mal practices like copying and cheating are indulged by candidates during the examinations. For all examinations the responsibility of a fair and free examination lies with the Examining Authority. The Examining Authority evaluates the situation and decides on the number of invigilators, supervisors and assistants. The examining authorities cannot pass on this burden to the disabled candidate.  The fetters being put on the choice of a scribe is unfair and reeks of chauvinism. The examining authorities must not be allowed to shirk their responsibility of proper invigilation onto the candidates by restricting his choice of Scribe. Some Examining Authorities have a practice of appointing one invigilator per candidate with special needs; some other Examining Authorities have a special room for such candidates and have one invigilator for the room. Some Authorities actually have a special Centre for such Examinees.

7. Scribe

Provisions of a Scribe would not be different for competitive exam and regular school/college exams. An examination at whatever level and for whatever course is still a test of the knowledge and skill of an examinee. The Scribe is a mere facilitator.

Limiting a candidate's choice of a Scribe on grounds of age, capabilities, qualifications, level of education or marks scored is actually unfair and prejudices the candidate. It is for the Examining Authority to take care of supervision as stated in 6 hereinabove.

The guidelines in paras 3 and 4 herein Below are to be considered only as transitionary guidelines and as a compromise to close the matter at this stage.  These guidelines will need to be revisited as the acceptability by the Examining Authority increases.

Criteria of marks of the Scribe is immaterial and redundant if the examining authorities do their part as explained in Para 6 above.

Criteria of 40% to 60% marks of a Scribe are paradoxical and arbitrary.    Paradoxical in the sense that Examining Authorities believe 40% to 60% marks is bad enough that the Scribe would not be unduly able to help the candidate while 40% to 60% is good enough that the scribe can sufficiently address all the requirements of a scribe.

Any criteria based on the marks of a Scribe are arbitrary as there is no uniformity in marking in the different exams conducted in India nor is there uniformity in marking in the different subjects being tested. Also no study has been conducted which recommends such a criteria

Fixing cut of marks for Scribe is unfair, especially in current system where the students score very high marks in their secondary and senior secondary school examination. Hence the students with 40% or 60% marks are bound to be weak student academically & may not be able to comprehend especially tables & graphs in test of reasoning, mathematical & scientific symbols and read properly, also their language skills would be shabby leading to the wastage of valuable time.

The discretion to choose a Scribe is always with the Candidate however for various reasons the Candidate may turn to the Examining Authority for assistance in this matter.  The examining Authority has to provide Scribe who can adequately take care of the problem.

The Examining authority has to consider the mental capacity of the Scribe which includes the Scribe's ability to read out questions, take dictation and deal with situations   which are fraught with tension.

Change of Scribe just before the start of the exam schedule or just before a paper or during the paper is a possibility which the Chief Supervisor of the Examining Authority has to deal with. The candidate cannot be made to suffer for such eventualities. In case of a necessity of change of Scribe before the Examination starts the candidate must be allowed the use of a Scribe

8. Additional Time

There is no doubt that additional time is to be given to a disabled candidate whether using the facility of a Scribe or not. The Disabled Candidate is slower while reading the question paper and much slower while answering it compared to a non Disabled Candidate. While dictating to a scribe repeating words and sentences and checking the answer sheet a lot of time is lost.

Different educational institutions and competitive exams all over the country have varied rules regarding this.

The need for a standard policy in this regard has been felt for a long time.

9. Technology

The advancement in technology has to be considered and the benefits must be harnessed for the betterment of the Disabled. The use of technology has given the Disabled a chance to be independent. It is time that the Examining authorities accept the new possibilities and facilitate its use.

The Examining authorities must use the available resources of eg. Centres at Universities, colleges and in the community which have facilities to allow Disabled Candidates to give their exams on the computer. Candidates may be allowed to use their own personal computers/laptops after proper check of the hard disc by the Examining authorities.

The Examining Authorities have to provide other facilities like printers and UPS which are compatible.

The software and appliances to be allowed and utilized are evolving therefore there cannot be a fixed set and the Examining Authorities have to see the situation and discuss the matter with the candidates and experts and then permit the technology to be used.

10. Kinds of Exams

There are many kinds of exams being conducted for eg. Viva, practical, online, open book apart from the traditional written exam which now has subjective, multiple choice and one word answers. The Policy has to be comprehensive to deal with all such exams.

11. Certificate of Disability

The Examining Authority must accept the Certificate of disability produced by the Candidate which has been issued by the Competent Authority under the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995.

The Examining Authority cannot ask the candidate to undergo a fresh test every time he sits for an exam.

12. Publicity and Implementation

This Policy needs to be widely publisised by all the Ministries to their constituents as past experience has shown that the Examining Authorities do not believe the candidates when the candidates produce the relevant circulars or notifications. The hassle of finding proof of the circular should not be on the candidate.

Further, after this policy comes into effect the non-implementing body should invalidate the examination and they should reorganize the same.  This is a deterrent to the non implementation of the Policy.

13. Disabilities

Although the herein below guidelines are specifically for Visually disabled candidates these guidelines may be used by the Examining authorities while conducting examinations for other candidates suffering from disability whether permanent or temporary.

Policy for Examination of the Visually Disabled

1. Scribe

a. The Visually Disabled candidate must be allowed the use of a Scribe who will read the question papers and write/type the answers dictated by the Visually disabled candidate.

b. Since one of the important factors while doing an examination is speed,  adequate practice is necessary, Visually Disabled persons should be allowed to use the services of a scribe of his/her own choice. The Visually Disabled candidate may however request the Examining authority to provide a Scribe.

c. The discretion to arrange for his/her own Scribe or to be provided by a Scribe by the Examining Authority is with the candidate alone.

d. No other restriction other than those mentioned in Clauses 3 or 4 herein below should be imposed on the selection of a scribe.

e. It is desirable that the candidate and the scribe are from the same stream.

2. Examination Form/Application

a. All Application Forms/Advertisements for exams should mention that a Visually Disabled candidate will be allowed the use of a Scribe and alternative formats will be provided.

b. The examining authority should give a clear option in the advertisement itself whether the examinee wishes the scribe to be provided by the examination conducting body or he/she wishes to arrange the scribe on his/her own.

c. The Examining authority at the time of advertisement/application should also print the criteria/qualification for scribe to be followed.

d. The application form should have a provision asking low vision persons to indicate the requirement of question paper in large print.  The advertisement for examination as well as the application form should also clearly mention that the low vision persons would be allowed the use of magnifying glass.

3. Scribes chosen by Candidate

a. In case the candidate avails the services of his/her own scribe/writer, the scribe/writer   should be one grade junior in academic qualification than the candidate if from the same stream.  However, this condition shall not apply if the scribe/writer is from a different stream.

b. For competitive examinations the scribe needs to be one level below the eligibility criteria of the competitive exam in consideration.

c. For internal exams of schools and colleges the condition of the scribe being one grade junior in academic qualification than the candidate should not be enforced strictly as this would cause undue hardship to the candidate and give rise to unviable solutions.

4. Scribes provided by Examining Authorities

a. Considering the practical problems, it is necessary that even if the scribe is provided by the examination conducting authorities, at the request of examinee, such authorities must ensure the competence of the scribe/writer. If the scribe is provided by the examining authorities, it should be ensured that the scribe is adequately qualified to understand the questions and to explain them to the candidate.

b. To ensure the competence of such a scribe provided, the following conditions should be adhered to:

i.           as far as possible and practical, the scribe himself/herself should be a current student;

ii.          In any case, the time interval between when such a scribe ceased to be a student himself/herself and the time he/she is acting as a scribe should not be more than three years, because with the lapse of time, natural abilities of a student like writing speed, taking dictation and writing an examination efficiently in a specified time frame, suffer a considerable decline. However strict adherence to this requirement cannot be stretched beyond a logical point.

iii.        The medium of instruction of the scribe in his/her studies should essentially be, or have been, the same as the examinee.

iv.        Scribe should, as far as possible, belong to the same stream as the examinee.

v.         In cases where the scribe is provided by exam conducting bodies at the request of the examinee, she/he should not have scored below 55% marks in the last exam.

vi.        While appointing a Scribe the mental capacity and maturity level of a scribe should be considered.

C. the candidate must have a chance to meet the scribe a day before the exam. This would ensure that the 2 get comfortable with one another. It would also give the candidate a chance to check whether the scribe is suitable.

d. The examining body should identify the scribes/writers and make the panels at district/Division or state level as per requirement of examination.

e. The Panels of scribe should be as per requirement of the stream/discipline eg. Arts, Commerce, Science & Mathematics, Engineering, Medical etc. and only eligible scribes should be included in the panel.

5. Supervision

Any attempt at cheating and other malpractices can be curbed by ensuring proper supervision and vigilance by the invigilators. This is the responsibility of the Examining Authority. No restrictions should be imposed on the choice of a scribe by a candidate on this account.

 6. Additional time

a.                   The facility of Additional time must be allotted to all Visually Disabled candidates appearing for examinations in any format with or without the use of a Scribe.

b.                  For a written test of duration of 1 hour at least 30 minutes extra time should be allotted.

c.                   Similarly For written tests involving more than one or less than one hour extra time should be worked out on the basis of 30 minutes per one hour criteria.

7. Arrangements at the Examination

a. Proper sitting arrangement should be made before commencement of the examination so as to avoid confusion and distraction.

b. Sitting arrangements for the disabled candidates should be made on the ground floor, as far as possible.

c. Refreshments, if any to scribes/writers should either are served before or after the examination and not during the examination.

d. The Chief invigilator of the examination center should have discretionary powers to accept last minute change of scribes under exigencies.

e. Considering the fact that many exams are held in overlapping schedules and also the fact that the scribes may not be free/willing to commit themselves for the entire duration of exam or examination of various languages, more than one person may be permitted to write different papers for the same examination, provided they fulfill all other conditions laid down in clauses 3 or 4 above. For enacting such a change in scribes for different papers, the ground of contingency should not be a mandatory requirement.

f. The letter approving the scribe should contain the following information in writing:

i. The extra time given to the candidate

ii. He shall be seated separately

iii. Contact address and phone number of competent authority should also be printed for last minute change of scribe.

g. To minimize the need for last minute change in the scribe and in view of (e) above, a collective sanction letter may be issued, sanctioning multiple scribes proposed by the examinee, so that any of them may be called upon to act as the scribe in any particular paper, without the hassle of formalities involved in changing the scribe at the eleventh hour.

h. Candidate, scribe and supervisor should be provided with full information about the duration of the examination.

8. Aids and appliances

a. a. All Visually Disabled candidates may be allowed to carry special mathematical aids such as Taylor's frame or abacus as they have no other way of calculating sums.  Neither abacus nor Taylor's frame calculate the sums but are mere aids such as a paper for candidates with vision. Other equipments that should be allowed include welcrove board for drawing diagrams and drawing wheel.

b. in papers such as accounts the visually disabled candidate may be allowed to carry Braille slates and papers for writing the numbers as it is difficult to remember the balance sheets

c. The visually disabled candidate should also be allowed to use optical/ electronic low vision aids such as magnifying glass;

d. Visually Disabled candidates must be allowed the use of a talking calculator in examinations in which the sighted candidates are allowed to use a calculator.

9. Alternative Formats

a. In addition to the facility of a scribe the Visually Disabled candidates have the facility to write answers in Braille or on a computer or a typewriter or may ask for question paper in large font.

b. Considering the developments in technology, all examination conducting bodies should facilitate the use of computers for taking the exams by the visually Disabled examinees, if the candidate so desires.

c. Visually Disabled candidates appearing for "Open book Exams may be provided the texts of such books in Braille, in digital format on the computer or in large text at the choice of the candidate.

10. Examination in Braille

a.       The question paper may be provided in Braille or in accessible digital text or a reader may be provided to read out the question paper.

b. the Reader must be chosen based on the guidelines suggested in Paras 3 or 4 as suggested hereinabove. C. Services of a Braille to print transcriber should be used to transcribe the answer sheet to normal print.

c. this printed answer sheet may be sent for evaluation.

d. Alternatively the answer paper in Braille should be evaluated by the expert/examiners in Braille script.

11. Large Print

a. The font size of the question paper should not be less than 20 for the benefit of low vision candidates. However if the candidate requests for an alternative font size or style then he may be so provided.

12.  Alternative Questions

a. Alternative questions must be provided in cases where the original question contains visual elements and/or require the candidate to interpret or produce such visual elements. However the candidate may elect to answer the original question.

b. Wherever possible, the visual graphs should be supplemented by descriptive explanation of the graphs for visually Disabled candidates.

c. For practical exams the Visually Disabled candidate must be allowed the help of a laboratory assistant to conduct the experiment and or be provided alternative oral questions in place of the experiment to be conducted. Rules relating to Scribes in Para 3 and 4 hereinabove should apply to the laboratory Assistant.

13. Examination on Computers

a. Visually Disabled candidates can appear in examination on the computer only if students are computer literate and can type at a reasonable speed. The software and hardware is now available to make students write their examinations both in Hindi and English mediums

b. This form of examination is preferable than the use of scribes due to the following reasons:

i. High payments being demanded by Scribes

ii. Wasting crucial time just before the examinations just to look for scribes.

iii. Sexual harassment of girl students.

iv. Losing marks due to mistakes of scribes or casual attitude of scribes.

v. Week students getting away with good marks by making their scribes write answers to questions that they do not know.

c. The use of computers for examination does not mean that a scribe to read the question paper is dispensed with. However the candidate may not require a sighted person and dispense with the same.

d. The responsibility to bring a computer is not on the student/ candidate.  The centre/ Examining authority shall spare one of its own Computers for the exam.

e. However if it is feasible then the candidate may be allowed to use his own computer. This may be decided by the candidate and the examining authority mutually.

f. the only responsibility that a student aspiring to give exam on computer has, is to bring the screen reading software.

g. The candidate should be allowed to install the screen reading software a day in advance on the computer provided with printer installed

h. Access to the computer is to be given at least 20 minutes before start of the examination.

i . in case of power failure, the time of power failure is to be noted and the same amount of time augmented in the end time of the paper.

j. recommended Equipment preparation:

i.    For each candidate appearing in the examination two computers may be set up for this purpose. One for writing the examination and one as stand-by in case of any failure in the machine.

ii.  The computer should be of a configuration greater than the minimum required to support the screen reader. This is necessary since the student will be running other software as well so system resources

iii. must be sufficient to run the operating system, the screen reader and other software concurrently.

iv.The computer must have the following software installed:

A.        MS Office

B.         Page maker

C.        screen reading software.

v. The medium of examination for the student can be in English or Hindi.

vi. All the data on the Computer must be password protected using the utility software called Folder Access. This software can make any folder access limited by password.

vii. UPS with back-up of 2 hours must be installed and connected at the centre. Enough power back-up needs to be provided for the examination centre.

viii. Two printers may be kept for taking the final print-outs of the answer sheets.

k. Recommended procedure for examination:

l. The computer centre or the library may be designated as one of the examination centres for conducting the examination.

m. Question paper must be sent to this Centre on a CD.

n. question paper should be given as a computer document in MS word or htm format.

o. If question paper cannot be provided in accessible format, then a reader is to be provided to read out the question paper.

p. if the question paper is in an inaccessible to screen reader format for eg. page-maker file format then The paper requires to be converted into a screen reader accessible file. The original file may be opened in the page maker software. Each page of the question paper must be copied and pasted in the MS word document.

q. if the candidate is appearing in English Medium,  the screen reader software may speak gibberish where Hindi text appears, all Hindi language text must be deleted from the question paper.

r. This MS word file must be password protected.

s. Answer sheet- One blank MS-word document may be created on the Computer and shortcut to this may be created on the desk-top. This blank document must have the paper size and margins set according to the extension sheets of the answer sheet on which the final print-out will be taken. Viii. The role-number and other details of the candidate must be filled on the original sheet by the invigilator using normal pen. These extension sheets must be stapled with each sheet of the original answer sheet. Each sheet must be signed by the invigilator.

t. The candidate must be allowed to have access to the Computer 20 minutes before the start of examination time.

u. At the time of start of examination, the password for the question paper file must be told to the candidate.

14. On line Exams

All Examining Authorities conducting online exams must follow the guidelines stated hereinabove to the extent practicable. It is the responsibility of the Examining Authorities to make their websites, question papers and all other study material accessible i.E. designed and available in accessible format. Examining Authorities must follow international rules, guidelines and standards laid down in this behalf. The candidate must be able to do the exam on his own.


The paramount purpose of the Policy is to alleviate the hardship being caused to the Visually disabled candidate due to uncertainty in policy and to mitigate the effects of a disability.

Drafted by Kanchan Pamnani, Advocate and solicitor

Experienced and contributed by Members of Accessindia, accessindia at accessindia.org

Researched and Compiled by Xaviers Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged, ST. Xaviers college, 5 Mahapalika MargMumbai

Kanchan Pamnani
Advocate & Solicitor
9, Suleman Chambers,
Battery Street, Colaba,
Mumbai - 400 039.

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