Saksham resource centre has been working for the education, rehabilitation and empowerment of the visually impaired, deafblind and visual impairment with additional disabilities since 2006. Children from 0 to 17 years of age are given admission. Older children are given resource support.
Parents bring their child to Saksham through reference of other institution, other parents, doctors, interventionists or after looking up on the net. Every parent is given a very attentive listening. The senior interventionist interviews the parents and gets the detailed medical history of the child along with the history of the past interventions that the child might have received. The interventionist then interacts with the child and lets him/her mingle with children to assess the child. After an initial assessment the child is placed in an appropriate group under the care of a special educator. A plan is drawn up for the child in consultation with the parents. This plan is reviewed from time to time and amended according to the need and progress of the child.
Here children in the age of 0 to 4 years are admitted. Small babies born with visual impairment and associated disabilities have many developmental delays. Early intervention helps the child overcome their disabilities and catch up on these delayed developments.
The Infant to Toddler program is a centre and home-based program. It caters to the overall development of the child and support to the parent and the extended family. A team comprising of the early interventionists, physiotherapists, music therapists plan the intervention program for the child.
For children older than 4 years of age, after assessment they are placed in either the academic, vocational or the Multisensory Impairment and Deafblind group.
Children with only visual impairment go through functional academic training, Pre-Braille training and then move on to pre-integration The movement through all these levels of training ensures that the child is well prepared to be part of the mainstream school. As a culmination of these trainings the child is admitted into mainstream schools where they are part of the inclusive education set-up.
Children with additional intellectual disability are enrolled with the National Institute Open Schooling and complete their basic education at their pace. Saksham has secured accreditation from NIOS to run its Open Basic Education Program. This has ensured that no child capable of acquiring academic knowledge is left out of the education system. These children are also given vocational training to identify their area of interest and strength.
After advocating inclusive education for the visually impaired and the child securing admission in a mainstream school, the integrated students are helped with provision of school fees, uniform, books, Braille books, aids and appliances, tactile study material, transportation, after school academic support. The resource teachers regularly visits the schools to help the mainstream school teachers to transact the academic content and to guide them to include the children in all school activities.
All educable children are imparted computer training using a screen reading software. A progressive syllabus is followed according to the age of the child. Eventually once the children are in class 6 they move from writing and reading in Braille to working on the computer. This way the barrier between the seeing and the non-seeing diminishes. They are at an equal footing in accessing knowledge and information
Children who are unable to cope with formal education are given vocational training. They receive functional knowledge of Mathematics, Science, Social Sciences through the vocational training they receive. They learn maths while they sort shapes, count and string beads to make jewellery. They learn about nutritional values of food, weights, proportions, learn to identify different vegetables, fruits, spices when they learn to prepare food items. They learn about their social environment when they go shopping, visit the post office, places of worship, go on a metro ride etc. They are trained in money transaction while running a canteen at the centre.
Saksham has specialised teachers who teach children with deaf blindness through touch sign language. The children are also provided computer training on a computer device with refreshable Braille cells.
Every student at Saksham is taught independent mobility skills starting from indoors to the outdoors. They are introduced to different tactile, auditory, olfactory, gustatory experiences to compensate the lack of exposure due to their visual impairment. This training prepares them to accept the different senses that they will come across in their lives.
A great deal of emphasis is laid in the training of daily living skills like wearing their clothes, shoes, knowing the front and back of their clothing, personal hygiene, social etiquettes of eating, using public conveniences, of conversing with people, of managing their belongings, of preparing simple non fire food items, of being to manage their daily activities in their homes, to planning an event and being able to execute it, developing leadership qualities etc.
These training are very important for the child to be self reliant and confident.
Every year workshops are conducted to enhance the knowledge base of the teacher. Workshops for parents are also organised to make them aware of the various opportunities available for their children if they have the proper education and training. They are counselled to work with their children to bring out the best in them and encourage them.
This program includes the category of visually impaired adults who are late blind due to accident or illness. They come for short duration to receive training in computer skills, orientation mobility and social communication so that they can move ahead in their life and work for their dreams.
Saksham’s association with the various corporates, donor organisation, specialists in the field of disability, mainstream schools, the ministry of social justice and empowerment, other NGOs, individuals have highlighted the capabilities of the visually impaired and the need to join hands to make them part of the mainstream society.