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Storytelling session in Indian Sign Language brings book alive for deaf & hard of hearing kids

It was a first-of-its-kind initiative by a leading publishing house in India. HarperCollins Publishers hosted a storytelling session for deaf and hard of hearing children in Indian Sign Language. The session was at Mount Carmel School in New Delhi.

This is a pioneering initiative in partnership with NGOs Atulyakala and Sanket Foundation. It’s an attempt to make the world of stories accessible to more children.

As children’s publishers, it is our constant endeavor to reach out to the reader. One of the best ways of doing so is through storytelling sessions. Such sessions, whether they are held in schools, bookstores, or at literature festivals and fairs, allow children to engage with authors and their books. We are delighted to be giving deaf and hard of hearing children, the unique experience of a storytelling session - Tina Narang, Publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books

Interactive session

The event featured author Deepa Aggarwal reading from her latest book, ’Sacked! Folktales you can carry around’. There were 20 students present for the storytelling session. Thirteen were between 5-8 years old, while the rest were between the ages of 14 to 16 years.

The children loved every moment of the session. At the end, they discussed their favorite characters with the author.

What a wonderful experience to have my story interpreted in sign language for readers who cannot hear! As an author, I try to reach out to as large and varied an audience as I possibly can. So, I was really excited when I was informed that my publisher was organizing this storytelling event – Deepa Aggarwal, Author

Sacked! Folktales You Can Carry Around is a collection of folktales. Some of them are quite well known. The reading was done in sign language and speech. There were two sign language interpreters present at the storytelling session and the children were hooked throughout.

Session enhanced with tools

There was a person present with a word chart, who picked out the words as the story was being read out.

For our visual learners, we use the word chart while telling the story. We make flash cards to go with them so they grasp the words that build the story. Then we tell the story again. This time the words make sense, as they are complete with emotions. Our students finally tell the story in their own way- through sequencing of cards, verbally, or through signing. Sometimes we even enact our stories – Tina Saighal, Founder & Executive Director, Sanket Foundation

It is well known that reading to children is a key to learning to read. But children who are deaf or hard of hearing, rarely get to experience this.

The Sanket Foundation’s drive to encourage reading in deaf and hard of hearing children is a great one. The presence of a leading publishing house like HarperCollins is a hopeful sign that more such partnerships will happen.

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