Centre for Special Students

Centre for Special Students

ABOUT CSS

The year 2008 brings great news for visually challenged students in Pakistan as Government College University (GCU) establishes a Centre for Special Students (CSS). This is the first ever, such center at college or university level established in Pakistan which aims at assisting the visually challenged students in order to eliminate their educational barriers. The number of visually impaired/ disabled students registered at present from first-year to PhD are about 150.

The credit for this centre goes to Prof. Dr. Khalid Aftab, the Vice Chancellor of GCU who is the visionary behind this project. He took personal interest in initiating, planning and arranging the funds for this centre. In opening this centre not only has he facilitated the blind students in their learning, he has also provided them with an equal opportunity to become useful citizens in the society.

The Centre for Special Students (CSS) is attached with GCU Library for administrative affairs

FACILITIES

The centre offers all the major facilities which the blind students generally require in order to meet their educational demands. Some of the major facilities provided by (CSS) are mentioned below:

The blind students are given special training in the centre to elevate their understanding regarding the use of computer and specially designed softwares that are widely used all over the world by the blind computer users.

At this modern age, the use of technology has minified most of the problems of the visually impaired people. The main idea, thus, is to train more and more blind students so that they may take the best out of the technology to diminish their educational dependency. For this very cause, the centre is playing a substantial part by promoting the use of technology for blind and giving them proper training to be heavily benefited by it.

Some blind students in the GCU campus take their exams using the Braille format. The Braille machine, which is used for this purpose is very expensive and most of the students cannot afford it. The centre has arranged for six Perkins Braille machines, which can be used by visually impaired students to take their exams on campus. In addition these Braille machines can also be utilized by the examination branch to transcribe question sheets.

The same Braille machines may also be used by the students to transcribe books/notes and other material related to their college courses.

The centre now offers computers with special, specifically designed screen reader programmes which enable the visually impaired students to work independently in their own special lab and not be dependant on other computer laboratories on the campus. The latest versions of Jaws and open book, (the main screen reader programs used by the blind) are now available in the centre. With the help of these speech oriented programs, the blind students are able to get rid of their certain limitations in different areas and become educationally independent. The facility of computer may also be used for those blind students who take their exams via computer.

Internet facilities are also available for research purposes. Using their screen reader program (jaws), a visually impaired person may also be able to surf internet independently and in equally effective manner like others.

The centre for special students (CSS) also has a collection of different Braille magazines for the purpose of pleasure reading.

The magazines may also be issued to the students for a limited period of time. More over, the Braille books shall soon be added to this section of the centre.

English to Urdu Braille dictionary designed by Aziz Jahan Bagum Trust for the Blind is available in the Centre. Consulting this six volumes Braille dictionary, the blind students find the greater solution to many of their English vocabulary problems as well as improve their English skills by exploring the meanings of countless words. This unparalleled facility for blind students may not be found in any other college/university of Pakistan.

Audio facilities and other related programs are also available for curricular and extracurricular learning. There are number of audio books and training tutorials on different subjects which the students may get from the centre. These training tutorials help the blind computer users discovering the in-depth knowledge regarding the screen reader programs as well as the MS office package.

The Centre provides the facility of books scanning which allow the blind students to read their course material independently. For this very purpose, the Centre has got the high speed scanner along with the special program, Open book, which enables the visually impaired people to scan material of their own and get it read with the help of speech output softwares.

NEWS & EVENTS

The Old Ravians Union Wednesday distributed automatic and manual wheelchairs and white canes among the physically-challenged students of Government College University Lahore at a graceful ceremony here on Wednesday at the university’s Meeting Rooms. Punjab Higher Education Minister Syed Raza Ali Gilani chaired the ceremony which was also addressed by Head of Akhuwat Foundation Dr Amjad Saqib and Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Hassan Amir Shah. ORU Honorary Secretary Prof Dr Khalid Manzoor Butt, Secretary Rana Asad ullah Khan, Finance Secretary Dr Salman Kazmi and Mr Najam Latif were also present.

In his opening speech, ORU President Qazi Afaq Hossain called upon the government to notify a ban on the words like “special” and “disabled” for the persons facing physical or mental challenges. “Indeed, they be called, written and mentioned as ‘persons with special abilities’ for all practical purposes, especially in all official and policy documents,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Amjad Saqib, an Old Ravian, said this visit on a cold and cloudy morning to his alma mater had made him feel all nostalgic about his college days dated back of late 1960s. He assured the union of full support from Akhuwat and Punjab Educational Endowment Fund (PEEF) for the university’s students with special abilities.

Punjab Minister Syed Raza Ali Gilani said he would personally ensure that the words “people with special abilities” were part of the government’s manifesto and polices. He said Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a role model for mankind and his teachings must be part of curriculum of all classes. He also proudly shared that “today, I have become a member of Old Ravians Union, and would vote in the union’s next elections.”

Vice Chancellor Prof Hassan Shah appreciated Old Ravians Union who has been playing a key role in the development of their alma mater. He said that more than 200 students with special abilities were currently studying at GCU, and the university was making all efforts to provide maximum support to them.

ORU Executive Member Dr Abdul Basit briefed the participants about the activities and role of the union.

A team of visually-impaired students of the Government College University Lahore has won the quiz competition, organised by the Movement for Independence of Disabled in connection with the International White Cane Safety Day, at the Government Islamia College Civil Lines Lahore. GCU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Hassan Amir Shah invited the team comprising of Shehryar Shabbir, Adnan Sami and Hassan Khan to his office and congratulated them at their success. Speaking on the occasion, GCU VC Prof Shah said that more than 200 physically–challenged students were currently studying at GCU Lahore and they all were really very special to them. “They are very hardworking, committed to their studies and actively participates in co-curricular and sports activities,” he added.

Disability is just a perception; and Waqas Ahmed, who according his doctors has a neuro-disability level of more than 79 percent is a living example, and an inspiration for all the physically-challenged people across the globe. Waqas, whose life moves on with a push of a button of his special wheel-chair, donated wheel-chairs and white cane to the Centre for Special Students (CSS) of his alma mater, the Government College University Lahore.

Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Hassan Amir Shah Tuesday hosted a special ceremony in the honor of his lion-hearted alumni who has been facing multiple neurological disorders since his childhood. But, the brave soul never fell in the valley of despair. Rather, after studying six years at GCU, he in 2008 decided to establish an NGO, ‘pace2life’ for helping the other financially and physically-challenged and now more than 400 Old Ravians and Ravians were voluntarily working with him at his NGO, carrying out different welfare activities from Balakot to Jhang. Waqas Ahmed, who hate the hate the word ”disability”, uses computer from his nose.

Speaking on the occasion, Vice Chancellor Prof Shah said that about 150 physically-challenged, mostly visually impaired, are currently studying at GCU, adding that GCU had a strong tradition it did not refuse admission to any physically-challenged student. Rather, the university has modified its facilities for their free movement. He said Waqas Ahmed was not only a role model for physically-challenged people, rather he was an inspiration for every-one of us.

Addressing the ceremony, Waqas said that he had established ‘pace2life’ because he didn’t want others to face the quandaries, he had confronted in his life. He said he took pride in the fact that he had never ceased struggle despite lacking physical normalcy. I never depended on anyone. I find myself better than many sad-faced youths who never exploited their potentials. He said the disabled was not the one who can’t work, disabled was the one who doesn’t work. I hate when somebody call me disable. Please stop using this word.

Dr. Khalid Jamil Akhtar, a scholar and medical professional, said Waqas was a miracle as many people having neuro-disability level of more than 50 percent could not even mover out of their rooms. But, Waqas is surprisingly neither only moves and travels, rather works independently. He advised Waqas to work start working on motivating the physically-challenged people that how to become independent in their lives while facing different physical challenges.

GCU CSS Incharge Salman Khalid said that they had enough resources by the university, but the wheel-chairs and white cans, donated by Waqas, had a special message that everybody must pay back the debt of his lama mater as per his/her capacity and resources. The ceremony was followed by walk which was aimed awareness about the rights and special abilities of physically-challenged people. The walk was led by the Vice Chancellor while a large number faculty members and students were also present.

Sohail Ahmed
In-Charge
Centre for Special Students (CSS)
Main Building Room # 9,
GC University, Lahore
Email: sohail.ahmed@gcu.edu.pk

Ghulam Murtaza
Assistant
Centre for Special Students (CSS)
Main Building Room # 9,
GC University, Lahore
Email: murtaza@gcu.edu.pk