Empowering deaf children through literacy - My Take by Asha Thatte
I lived abroad for a short while, and there was an art gallery near my house where disabled children were brought for showings. This started the thought in my mind to do something meaningful for children with disabilities.
When I came back to India, I decided to get a qualification in training programs for children with special needs and soon after that joined the Vikas Vidyalaya for Deaf Children in Dadar.
Unlike some other physical disabilities, deafness is not immediately visible or understood and tends to be overlooked. That is why I was especially keen to work with hearing impaired kids.
From the moment I entered the gates of the school, my life changed. I worked for 10 years as a full time principal. In those days, awareness was very low and we struggled to raise funds. There was no CSR and it was hard work to convince people. Eventually things got easier. We got government recognition and donations started coming in. We also have the support of donors like Tech Mahindra.
The ratio of teacher to students at our school is one to eight. We teach sign language, but our primary focus is on oral and aural hearing. Our children come from poor backgrounds so we provide them with hearing aids that we source through donors. We tell the parents to raise whatever they can. We don't charge any school fees.
We started 51 years ago with just one student. Today we have 110 children studying at our school and it makes us proud when we see them come out with flying colours in their exams every year.
About the Writer
Asha Thatte is the managing trustee of Vikas Vidayalaya for Deaf Children, one of Mumbai's oldest schools for hearing impaired kids.