The Tata Interactive Learning Disability Forum (TLDF) 2008 held in Mumbai on November 29 and in Kolkata on December 2 focuses on urgent needs to address learning disability (LD) issues.
The third annual TLDF – a unique global forum on LD in India – was successfully conducted at Mumbai and Kolkata. This is the first time the event, earlier only held in Mumbai, has been extended to include the eastern metro city of Kolkata as well.
Focusing on the theme of 'Special Deeds for Special Needs', the TLDF 2008 underlined the importance of early remedial action to help learners with special needs. When asked about the TLDF, Sanjaya Sharma, CEO of Tata Interactive Systems (TIS) said, "Around 3–7 per cent of the world population suffers from LD, but it can be overcome if detected at an appropriate time. We have invited international LD experts to interact with city doctors, parents and teachers to make them more aware. Right now we are focusing on Mumbai and Kolkata, to spread awareness."
Tata Interactive Systems has been championing the cause of LD for several years, and its efforts recently bore fruit when LD was included in the MBBS syllabus last year in the state of Maharashtra. The educational authorities are now taking the initiative to enhance the B Ed syllabus as well, and similar efforts are on in Kolkata too. Such grassroots-level awareness is critical as the lack of awareness about LD has meant that even prestigious schools tend to classify LD-affected students as slow learners.
Sanjaya added, "In the past couple of years, volunteers from our Mumbai staff have made presentations on LD in about 26 schools. In Kolkata too, we will carry out a similar programme."
The TLDF emphasised that LD need not be an impediment to real-life achievements. Among the speakers was Swaroop Sampat Rawal, former Miss India and a special educator and consultant, who said, "I am dyslexic, but I have completed my Ph D on this subject." The event saw a series of highly informative and engaging sessions by noted LD experts from Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital's LD Clinic, one of the few clinics that offer LD certification in India; Nasen, UK; Haskins Laboratories, US; Bombay Teachers Training College, Mumbai; SNDT University, Mumbai; and Manovikas Kendra Research & Rehabilitation Institute, Kolkata.