A seminar held at the University of Karachi (KU) in connection to International White Cane Day emphasized the need to use assistive technology for visually impaired persons in general and students in particular in the education sector.

The Inclusive Student’s Society of Karachi University which is supervised by the KU Students Advisor Office conducted the event on Wednesday at Arts Auditorium to spread knowledge about the use of white canes and its significance in the lives of people with visual impairment.

On this occasion, the KU Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Khalid Mahmood Iraqi said that there is an urgent need to build assistive technologies labs in universities so that special persons and visually impaired students can have equal opportunities for education in a better way.

He informed the audience that universities should initiate training at the departmental level so that visually impaired students could get the benefit of assistive technology. He mentioned that all visually impaired students of the University of Karachi, and at the colleges affiliated with the University, can use special software to take the exam, which does not require any writer or helper.

The KU VC Professor Dr Khalid Iraqi said public and private sectors have to raise awareness about the difficulties being faced by visually impaired people. “Holding a white stick is considered to be a sign that the person with the stick is blind, if such a person is seen at any time, especially on the side of the road, one should immediately go to help him.”

Meanwhile, Student Affairs Adviser Dr Syed Asim Ali said that people with disabilities have proved that they are a useful part of society and can play their role in the economic and social development of the country along with other people, provided they are given adequate opportunities.

He mentioned that promoting special education in Pakistan and other developed countries is the need of the hour. Education is essential for every child and there is a need to formulate national policies based on this philosophy.

The KU Students Advisor Office also arranges plays, speech contests, and panel discussions to highlight the importance of white cane safety.

Later, the KU VC Professor Dr Khalid Iraqi and others blindfolded themselves and participate in a walk to show solidarity with the visually impaired people.

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Arshad Yousafzai is a Karachi-based journalist covering Education and Human Rights. He can be reached on Twitter @Arshadyousafzay

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