Govt scientist Dr Alka Rao gets national award for bridging accessibility gap for deaf

| | Chandigarh
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Govt scientist Dr Alka Rao gets national award for bridging accessibility gap for deaf

Tuesday, 26 September 2023 | PNS | Chandigarh

Dr Alka Rao shines as a trailblazer with a passion for inclusivity. As a Principal Scientist at the CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH) in Chandigarh, she's not only made remarkable contributions to protein engineering but has also dedicated herself to smashing down the barriers that hinder STEM education for individuals with disabilities, especially the deaf community. She is a recipient of the prestigious NCPEDP-Mphasis Universal Design Awards 2023, and will be felicitated at a special ceremony on September 28, 2023 in New Delhi.

Dr Rao's journey is marked by a remarkable list of accomplishments, including numerous national and international patents, copyrights, and prestigious journal publications. Her expertise extends beyond the laboratory as she advises government bodies like the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoH&FW), Ministry of Education (MoE), among others.

However, it is Dr Rao's dedication to fostering inclusive STEM education that truly sets her apart. She leads the ISLEVL (Indian Sign Language Enabled Virtual Laboratory) project, funded by CSIR under the Jigyasa program.  “The ISLEVL platform is a collaborative effort that brings together scientists, interpreters, content creators, and multimedia editors. It is accessible online and via the Google Play Store, ensuring that a wide audience can benefit from its resources. This initiative is part of our larger vision to break down barriers and make STEM education truly inclusive. Establishing the country's first ISL-enabled astronomy lab in Karnal pioneering efforts that is revolutionizing STEM education for the deaf is a step towards our commitment,” said Dr Rao.

"Dr Rao's remarkable journey reminds us that true progress in science is not just about discoveries in the laboratory but ensuring that the wonders of science are accessible to all. NCPEDP-Mphasis award stands as a testament to her unwavering commitment to breaking down barriers and ensuring that the STEM education is accessible to all, regardless of their abilities." said Arman Ali, Executive Director, NCPEDP.

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