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Events and Awareness Campaigns

Autism Awareness Month

Every year, April is observed as World Autism Awareness Month, with an aim to support the creation of fulfilling lives and relationships for persons with autism. This month also acts as a marker of the work that has been done so far, and the road that lies ahead of us in our pursuit of enabling the inclusion and acceptance of persons with autism in our university. To observe this month, the OLS planned a series of events and activities to promote and foster feelings of warmth and acceptance among the Ashoka community, specifically in the context of appreciating and accepting neurodiversity around us.

Encouraging the Ashoka community to be more inclusive and accepting of individuals with autism

As a kickstart, the OLS put up posters across the campus listing a few ways in which we can extend a hand of friendship to our peers who are on the autism spectrum. The idea was to encourage the Ashoka community to pause for a moment and engage with the poster to understand and implement some of the inclusive practices highlighted through it, so as to make our neurodiverse peers feel more at home at Ashoka.

A list of inclusive practices to support people with autism

On April 12, the OLS had invited two organizations, Action for Autism (AFA) and Action for Ability Development and Inclusion (AADI), for the Spring Haat organized by the Student Life Office. Both the organizations set up their stalls, showcased the products made by people with autism and other disabilities, and engaged with various students, staff, and faculty at the stalls. Along with this, there was an interactive activity organized to explore the common understanding of autism amongst the Ashoka community members and put down questions that might have about it. The purpose was to initiate a conversation around autism and neurodiversity on the Ashoka campus. Later, the responses were collated, the Ashoka community was encouraged to reflect on their connotations, and common questions were addressed for the purpose of increasing awareness about autism.

The OLS encourages those curious to learn more about autism or create inclusive spaces around themselves to reach out to the office, for the month may have drawn to a close, but the dialogue on autism must continue.

Virtual Conference | The Dyslexic Mind: Thinking Differently About Higher Education

One of the greatest milestones for the OLS this year has been organising the first-ever conference on the inclusion of students with dyslexia in higher education institutions in India. The virtual conference aimed to spotlight dyslexia through lived experiences, explore its acceptance in HEIs in India and look at its future in the realm of employment. It brought together academicians, practitioners, industry experts, parents, students, advocates, and policymakers to share best practices, knowledge and lived experiences to enable effective support systems for students with dyslexia across the HEIs.The idea was that this would further facilitate employers and industry leaders to capture the talent of people with dyslexia and achieve greater organisational productivity.

The conference hosted lauded keynote speakers and panelists consisting of experts in the field, and leaders and representatives from academia and corporates in the US and India. One of the panels hosted adults with dyslexia who have made a significant mark in their chosen areas of work. Other discussions centred around setting up the systems in place to encourage students with dyslexia to complete their higher education journey with confidence and contribute creatively to the ever-changing workspace globally. The conference was well-received by the audience and successfully started a dialogue on dyslexia and higher education in the Indian context. It also put forth Ashoka University as an educational institute that holds inclusion of students with diverse learning needs as one of its core values.

Click here to watch the livestream recording of the conference.

Poster of the conference titled, "The Dyslexic Mind: Thinking Differently about Higher education" A screenshot of panelists interacting in a zoom meeting setting A screenshot of panelists interacting in a zoom meeting setting A screenshot of panelists interacting in a zoom meeting setting

International Week of Deaf People

On account of the International Week of Deaf people, the OLS organized a workshop titled “HandSpeak: Demystifying Deaf Culture and Sign Language” on September 25, 2021. Led by disability experts and sign language trainers from V-Shesh Co, the workshop aimed at demystifying common myths associated with deaf culture and sign language through interactive exercises. At the same time, it provided participants with hands-on training on basic elements of the sign language used in everyday interactions, and employed fun and engaging ways to express emotions and body gestures using the nuances of sign language.

Ashoka staff members, students, and faculty joined the workshop and actively participated to learn more about sign language, deafness and the associated Indian context. The workshop made use of trivia, audience participation and a Q&A session to debunk common misconceptions and inform people about deafness, all of which was well-received by the participants.

NeuroDiversity and Ableism Webinar

As a part of Orientation Week 2020, the OLS conducted a webinar to create awareness and sensitize students from the incoming batch about various types of diversities in terms of race, class, gender, social identities around us. In doing so, we also introduced the concept of “Neurodiversity”, which aimed at creating awareness about various forms of cognitive, physical, and language diversities around us.

As a part of this webinar, we also invited a very special guest, Mr George Abraham, CEO, Score Foundation, and the founding chairman of the World Blind Cricket Council. He narrated his inspiring life journey and talked about what it was like for him as a person with 100% blindness to navigate his undergraduate journey at St. Stephens College, University of Delhi. He also provided certain practical insights into what all of us can do at an individual level to embrace all forms of diversities around us.

World Sight Day

October 8th is observed as World Sight Day every year.

The OLS took this opportunity to further knowledge about visual disabilities and the need to break the barriers that students with visual disabilities face in accessing higher education in India. In doing so, it highlighted the need for the promotion of a conducive learning environment for persons with visual disabilities in higher education institutions.

International Dyslexia Awareness Month

The month of October is observed as Dyslexia Awareness Month every year. On account of this, the OLS presented a Student Speaker Series, where Ashoka students with Dyslexia came forward and provided profound insights into their own experiences while navigating their academic journeys at Ashoka.

International Deaf Awareness Week

The UN General Assembly has proclaimed 23rd September as the International Day of Sign Languages in order to raise awareness of the importance of sign language in the full realization of the human rights of people who are deaf. The theme for the 2020 International Day of Sign languages was “Sign Languages Are for Everyone!”

With the entire week (Sept 21 -25) being celebrated as the International Week of Deaf Awareness, the OLS organized an interactive session on demystifying deafness through understanding the deaf culture and sign language. P Rajasekharan, co-founder of V-shesh, along with his team members, taught simple signs used in everyday conversations, fun and engaging ways to tell a story using sign language, and much more. This introductory session on sign language was well received by the students and staff at Ashoka.

NeuroDiversity Initiative

As a liberal space that values each individual as a significant entity in enriching the educational experience on campus, inclusivity and diversity are significant values of the Ashokan ethos. The human brain is a fascinating entity and Ashoka is a space shared by people with diverse minds. It is now time to value each mind – for all minds matter.

During Summer 2020 and 2021, the Office of Learning Support, along with a team of interns, launched the “NeuroDiversity Initiative”. As a part of this initiative, a series of newsletters were prepared to create awareness about the diverse minds that encompass our Ashoka community.

Volume 2 | Summer 2021

Volume 1 | Summer 2020

Study at Ashoka

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