Ramakrishna Mission Vidyalaya made an earnest attempt in 1980 to integrate blind children in to its regular high school. Later, a modest ‘Resource and Development Centre’ was started in May 1984 primarily to prepare braille books. In 1992, the Vidyalaya started a Notebook production Centre with 90% of its work force as disabled persons. This Centre is self-sufficient in nature and supplies notebooks to schools and colleges in Coimbatore.
In 1994, the Vidyalaya launched its economic-oriented rehabilitation services for the disabled involving banks, industries, the employment exchange, etc. Vidyalaya is actively collaborating with the Central and State Governments in implementing number of projects of national importance to provide comprehensive services to the disabled. In general, the institute is offering need based services in the area of special education and rehabilitation.
The aim of this FDMSE is to translate the declaration of Swami Vivekananda into action. With regard to proper education, he had said that all perfection and powers were already within each individual, and education was the means to make them manifest in the lives of individuals.
Accordingly, the vision of the FDMSE is based on the fact that the strength of persons, of even these with disabilities, can be aroused for constructive purposes by professionally trained teachers. The faculty believes that by strengthening the hearing ability of visually impaired persons, visual ability of hearing impaired persons, motor ability of mentally retarded persons, and cognitive ability of persons with locomotor disability through well trained professionals, seemingly impossible results become achieved realities. Serving God manifest as so many human beings is another important philosophy of the faculty. Thus the inspiration for commencing the work for persons with disability came from Swami Vivekananda.
- Offering training programs at all levels for preparing personnel and professionals for special education and rehabilitation programs catering to the needs of persons with visual impairment, hearing impairment, mental retardation, locomotor disability, and other areas where there is a need for human resource development.
- Organizing short-term training programs for preparing multi-purpose rehabilitation workers to serve persons with disabilities.
- Organizing awareness-programs for parents, administrators, and public for facilitating effective implementation of service programs for persons with disabilities.
- Preparing literature such as handouts, brochures, etc. on education, and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities.Promoting context-based models leading to educating all children with disabilities.
- Organizing orientation courses for general classroom teachers for implementing inclusive education programs for disabled children.
- Developing tailor-made programs in education and rehabilitation for the benefit of special education personnel from developing countries.
- Promoting research in specific educational and rehabilitation areas, whose results would strengthen development of inclusive schooling and community-based rehabilitation programs.
- Offering continuing education programs for the existing personnel working in the field of education and rehabilitation of the disabled.
- Providing consultancy services to developing countries to promote educational services.
Play Therapy Unit for Special Children
The mentally retarded children have to be trained and educated right from their early age. This unit concentrates on developing the skills of mentally retarded children using the play way method of learning. The children through play therapy learn daily living skills, concept development, social interaction, behavioural modification, reading, writing, play activities with peer groups, and speech training. These efforts are concentrated to prepare the child to get into the general education stream. This unit also gives orientation training to the parents of mentally retarded children.
The play therapy unit provided services to mentally retarded children and children with multiple disorders. This unit is well equipped with various models and toys for teaching and training mentally retarded and learning disabled children. Besides toys, pictures, flash cards and charts are also used. This unit also uses visual stimulants such as TV for the education of the mentally retarded children.
Occupational and Physiotherapy Unit
Occupational Therapy is a mode of treatment provided with the use of purposeful activity for individuals who are disabled due to physical injuries or psychological and neurological deficits. Occupational Therapy is a goal-directed activity to promote persons with disabilities into independence in day-to-day functioning. Physiotherapy deals with treating patients with physical modalities like heat, cold and electricity; and various types of Exercise Therapy for accelerating the patient’s recovery from injuries and diseases which have altered his normal way of living. The different electrical modalities used in the unit are Short-Wave Diathermy (SWD), Interferential Therapy (IFT), Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) and Ultra Sound Therapy. Clients with various disorders like musculo-skeletal disorders, nerve disorders, developmental and sensory disorders, cognition and psychomotor disorders, skin disorders and other injuries, mental health disorders, cerebral palsy, polio, arthritis, hemiplegic patients and amputees can make use of the facility.
Every year, generally, weekly twice medical consultation was made available from the Dept of OT & PT. This consultation included patients suffering with Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation, Paralysis, Arthritis, Congenital deformities, and also all kinds of Skeletal and Ligament injuries. Total benefited patients varied from year to year, including the adults, children, and aged people.
Notebooks Production Unit
Swami Vivekananda firmly believed that “the only way of getting our divine nature manifested is by helping others to do the same. If there is inequality in nature, still there must be equal chance for all – or if greater for some and for some less – the weaker should be given more chance than the strong”.
It was in this pretext that Sri Ramakrishna Mission Vidyalaya, Coimbatore, instituted a workshop in 1992 in order to train, and thus employ, the disabled people into different activites involved in the making of a notebook. The idea behind was to bring these masses into the main stream, creatively use their services, and convert all their work into a challenge as well as an opportunity for inner growth, thus bringing much joy and fulfillment to their lives. The workshop was officially inaugurated on 2nd Oct, 1992, on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, with the total strength of seven workers. Over the years, several batches of the disabled lot have been trained and assisted for self employment.
Today, the workshop has the total strenght of 24 workers, with R Nagendran, R Ravichandran, C Palanisamy and V Dhandapani as the instructors of various departments. Their proud team of binders consists of G.Sundarajan, R.Selvamani(both visually impaired), K.Jeganathan, P.Moorthy, S.Mariappan, M.Maruthasalam and B.Parthiban (all blind). Crafting, paper-cutting, and pasting of notebooks is done by I. Sirajuthan and P. Dinakaran (both being deaf and dumb). They are assisted by R.Gopal, K.Srinivasan and T.Srinivasan(all suffering from hearing Impairment). Then there is a brigade of trainers as well, who work tirelessly on the thermal press to compress the books, pin them, cover them neatly and also prepare them for dispatch. This team consists of K.Boopathi, R.Parthiban, R.Saravanan and K.Manikandan (all mentally challenged).
A. Thavimani (Physically Handicapped) arranges the papers from the rim, shapes up the notebooks and gives them the final touches. He is assisted by a team of dedicated workers such as S.Sampath, E.Marimuthu and C.Venkataraman. They also assist other members, as and when required.
The notebooks prepared were sold to educational institutions in Tamil Nadu. More than 90% of the persons working in this unit are disabled. This unit has proved that disabled persons can work on par with normal persons and the quality of the notebooks is in no way inferior to those prepared by normal persons. A summary of note books prepared and sold to various institutions in and around Coimbatore is given below:
Low Vision Clinic
Both functional and clinical assessment of persons with visual impairment is done in this clinic. Visual Acuity test and visual field test are conducted under clinical assessment. Visual efficiency of low vision children is developed and their reading preferences are tested under functional assessment. Magnifiers necessary for children are tested and prescribed. Referral services are also made to reputed eye hospitals in Coimbatore.
The low vision clinic of the IHRDC, supported by the Asian Foundation for Prevention of Blindness, was put to optimum use to identify children with visual impairment. Screening camps to identify children with disability in different schools of the Periyanaickenpalayam and Karamadai blocks of the Coimbatore district are being conducted by the staff of IHRDC from time to time. For example in 2003, under phase one, five camps were conducted in which children with visual impairments, hearing loss and cognitive defects were identified and were referred for further action. In all, 2081 children were assessed during the course of these camps of which 69 children were found to be with defective vision, 65 children with hearing defects.
Under second phase, screening programmes were conducted on 6, 13 and 20 of November 2003 at the Panchayat Union Primary Schools of Devaiyampalayam, Naickenpalayam and Govanur respectively and the IHRDC team screened a total of 409 children. The children identified to have difficulties in visual, hearing and learning problems were brought to the centre for further therapy and intervention services.
The third phase screening was conducted on February 26, 2004 at Panchayat Union Primary School, Periya Mathampalayam to screen 95 children. Fourth phase of screening programme was conducted on March 11, 2004 at Panchayat Union Primary School, Pettathapuram in which 100 children were screened. Fifth and concluding phase of screening was conducted on March 18, 2004 at the Panchayat Union Primary School, Selvapuram in which 108 children were screened.
Moreover, every year Vidyalaya students are screened for low vision testing and suitable remedial measures are recommended. For example in 2008-09, 1352 students were screened in Low vision Unit from various institute of Vidyalaya and 74 students were identified having distance vision problem.
- The unit offers early intervention programme to children with visual impairment.
- Orientation about Visual efficiency skills, non-optical devices and optical devices were given to students of physiotherapy and social works of various colleges.
- Note (Money Identification) training is provided.
Audio and Speech Pathalogy Unit
The IHRDC provides speech therapy to speech impaired students. This unit also has an Audiometer to test the hearing loss of children. By providing speech therapy and also training in Sign Language, the Centre is aiming at promoting total communication system among hearing impaired persons.
This unit provides services to hearing impaired persons suffering from hearing loss of varying intensity. The unit also distributes hearing aids to the hearing impaired patients under various government schemes or under sponsorship from philanthropic minded public.
Many young clients have been able to get admission in Integrated Education Programme after undergoing training at our center. The unit also gave speech training to children with speech, language and hearing problems.
Audiometry Testing for Students
School children and college students in and around our campus are given Audiometry testing, Speech and Hearing disability screening programmes.
Ear Mould Manufacturing Commenced
In July 2003, the IHRDC started manufacturing ear moulds for persons with hearing impairment. The unit manufactures ear moulds for both pocket-held and behind the ear type hearing aids. Apart from the regular need based services to the clients, the centre provided ear moulds to more than 600 children with hearing impairment who were identified through the SSA programme in the 22 blocks of the Coimbatore district.
Talking Books Recording Unit
The Talking Book Production unit produces audio cassettes for textbooks of various classes. These audio-cassettes are then distributed to visually impaired students all over the State on request. This unit has a hi-tech dubbing system, which can produce three duplicate cassettes from the master in less than a minute.
The Orthotic and Prosthetic Unit
This unit deals with conditions like polio, cerebral palsy, amputees, hemiplegic and paraplegic patients. Orthotic is a mechanical device, which is fitted to any part of the body with the object keeping that part in the maximum possible anatomical and functional position. The different types of orthotic manufactured in this unit are HKAFO, KAFO and AFO. These orthotic are fitted to the patients depending upon their conditions and according to the doctor’s prescription. Prosthesis is to replace the lost part of the body. The different types of prostheses manufactured in this centre are above-knee, below-knee, Syme’s, above-elbow and below-elbow prostheses. Moreover, assistive devices are manufactured with conventional as well as imported prostheses. Special footwear for diabetic, heel-pain and knee-pain patients, known as the Micro Cellular Rubber (MCR) Footwear is also manufactured.
Present Prosthetic & Orthotic Facilities
The O & P Unit of the FDMSE is a modest setup capable of producing moderately good quality orthotic and prosthetic devices. Compared to its limited infrastructure, equipment and manpower, the unit has served surprisingly large number of clients and has a good reputation. The unit is housed in a small enclosure measuring 30 ft x 30 ft. The hall is partitioned using aluminium channels fixed with card board and glass panels to create following sections:
- Cabin: To store’s a files, records and intercom connectivity
- Store Room to stock materials. A working bench is fixed here to carry on lamination works, cutting P.P. sheet works, and works related to heat gun machine.
- Machine room contains a shear cutter machine, a drilling machine and a stone grinder.
- POP Section has a small pipe vice and a grinding machine to carry out modification work.
- Thermo Plastic oven: Electric oven machine is place in that room.
- Swing Machine section: Stitching works takes place.
- Workshop: One working bench with one bench vice to carry out appropriate operations takes place.
- Assistive Devices storing place: Finished O & P devices are stored in the cabin.
Activities of Orthotic and Prosthetic Unit
The O & P Unit is rendering its services to variety of clients mainly under following three categories:
I: Services under Sarva Siksha Abhiyan – a Central Govt. Initiative
The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is a national movement aimed at ‘Education for All’ including the children with disabilities. Ramakrishna Mission Vidyalaya is the nodal agency for implementing the SSA programme in Coimbatore and The Nilgiris districts. In Coimbatore districts the scheme is implemented through 22 blocks and the Nilgiris District has four blocks.
The SSA activities are confined to school going children (up to class XII) providing them variety of facilities. In order to serve the disabled children, the special educators visit all the in-school children to find out the educational needs, aids and appliances required by them etc. They also conduct survey to identify the out of school children and prepare a detailed assessment plan regarding the assistive devices required. Mostly disabled persons need Braille slates, Abacus, Taylor Frame, and Mobility Cane. Requirements of orthotic and Prosthetic devices are passed on to our O & S unit. Mostly orthopedically challenged children need tricycles, wheel chairs, calipers, special shoes, crutches and splints. As per the requirement of each child in the blocks, detailed measurements are made and our team manufactures the items or purchases some complements from reputed agencies and finished products are distributed in the children.
Regular camps are also conducted with assistance from ENT specialists, ophthalmologists, orthotists, psychiatrists, pediatricians and audiologists apart from the village administrative officers, tashildars and revenue inspectors. The children are assessed and details of their requirement is passed on to our O & P Unit.
II: Services under Vazhndhu Kattuvom Project – a State Govt. Initiative
The slogan ‘vazhndhu kattuvom’ embedded in the project name Vazhndhu Kattuvom Project (VKP) has meaning ‘We will grow and show’. The project is mainly designed to benefit disabled people not covered under the SSA Scheme. Whereas the SSA services are restricted only to school children, the VKP is designed to serve all categories. Mode of assessment for both the projects is quite similar in nature. At present prosthetic and orthotic devices are distributed under the VKP scheme in four blocks in Coimbatore district for distributing. The blocks are Kongalnagarm, Gudimangalam, Thondamuthur and Palladam. Plan for extending the services in different districts are underway.
III: Consultancy Services to Individual Paitents
Few patients opt for specifically designed and better orthotic and prosthetic devices otherwise not available under either the SSA or VKP projects. The number is quite small because our unit does not have adequate infrastructure and equipment to serve these patient with high quality stuff.
At a glance statement of services provided by our Orthotic and Prosthetic unit is given below:
Case Study of a Client
Thangaraj, aged 8 years had congenital absence of right lower limb. He has got good muscle power in both limbs. Parents were worried about his mobility. They took him to a number of rehabilitation centres and hospitals, but in vain. Finally he was referred to IHRDC for fitting of prosthesis. He was fitted with a BK prosthesis with suspension system. After fitting the prosthesis the parents were taught about walking, training and wearing techniques so as to assist the child. Now his parents are relieved to a large extent, as the child has become independent in mobility.
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Programme (SSA) Activities
The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is a national movement aims at ‘Education For All’ including the children with disabilities. The SSA scheme warrants the coordinated efforts of both the regular teacher and the special educator to bring all children with disabilities under the umbrella of education. Ramakrishna Mission Vidyalaya is the nodal agency for implementing the SSA programme in Coimbatore and The Nilgiris districts. In Coimbatore districts the scheme is implemented through 22 blocks, each block being manned by one special educator apart from the regular teachers. The 22 blocks are namely, Annur, Udumalpet, Madukkarai, Valparai, Perur, Pongalur, Thondamuthur, Pollachi North, Pollachi South, Sulur, Perianaickenpalayam, Madathukulam, Karamadai, Avinashi, Tirupuur, Kinathukadavu, Palladam, Anaimalai, Sultanpet, S.S. Kulam, Gudimangalam and Coimbatore City.
The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Programme was implemented in the Nilgiris District from February 2005. Four centres have been established in Nilgiris District in Kotagiri, Coonoor, Ooty and Gudalur.
Every year medical camps are being organized in Coimbatore and Nilgiris districts. The camps are conducted with assistance from ENT specialists, ophthalmologists, orthotists, psychiatrists, pediatricians and audiologists apart from the village administrative officers, tashildars and revenue inspectors. The children are provided medical certificates, identity cards, etc. and special educators visit in-school children to find out the educational needs, aids and appliances required by them etc.
The Special educators and Block Resource teachers also conduct survey to identify the out of school children.