Deaf kids get lessons in sign language at this Gurugram centre
Walk into this centre in Gurugram and you will find a large group of children enthusiastically participating in sign language lessons.
The centre was started in July this year by the Haryana Welfare Society for Persons with Speech and Hearing Impairment (HWSPSHI). Their aim is to reach out to deaf children in large numbers at an early age and teach them skills essential to communicate with.
I have realized that every Deaf student must have access to three most important things. First is access to their own language i.e. Sign Language, in order to communicate and express their deepest feelings. The second is literacy, so they must have a strong foundation in reading/writing skills, and the third is Skill Development. We wish to have such an empowering system in place that one day we are able to impact not just the deaf students in our school, but the entire nation through our initiatives - Dr Sharanjeet Kaur, Chairperson, Haryana Welfare Society for Persons with Speech and Hearing Impairment
So far over 200 children have signed up for these classes. The sessions are open to families as well and there are many classes where parents do join in. For the parents, it is a chance to learn how to better communicate with their children.
There are only about 250 certified sign language interpreters in India, for a hearing impaired population that is officially estimated to be 1.3 million. This is a contrast from the numbers put forth by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), which puts the number at 18 million people. Even this is seen as low.
This invisibility has meant that the deaf community has been cut off in terms of access to government services. It has also affected the spread of Indian Sign Language (ISL). Because sign language is also a visible indicator of deafness, it has been shunned.
All this has impaired the growth of Indian Sign Language, which in turn makes it hard to find qualified sign language teachers. There are many volunteers and organisations looking to meet this need. In April last year, NGO Enable India started the Finger Chats initiative. This is made up of a group of about 1,000 volunteers in five Indian cities who gather to teach basic sign language for free.
There is a major gap that centres like this one in Gurugram are aiming to fill.
I truly believe that the 'deafness of ear' does not matter, if we are able to create an atmosphere of equal opportunities, quality education and accessibility to 'enlighten the mind' - Dr Sharanjeet Kaur, Chairperson, Haryana Welfare Society for Persons with Speech and Hearing Impairment
Those interested in knowing more about these classes can contact the head office of Haryana Welfare Society for Persons with Speech and Hearing Impairment at 0172- 2572301.