Deaf Leaders' Foundation finds multiple ways to empower the community

There are many people with disabilities out there looking for opportunities to show their talents. They offer a huge potential which many people are yet to wake up to. Many NGOs and training centres are working to make that happen, like the Deaf Leaders' Foundation (DLF) based in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.

The venture was started off by K Murali in 2004. As someone who is deaf, Murali knew firsthand of the struggles faced by the community when it comes to work opportunities. This led him to think of starting a training centre exclusively for deaf people to enable them to live independently.

Today, DLF has spread its wings. It runs a deaf school and a matrimony venture where deaf people can look for soulmates.

The training centre is for adults of 18 years of age and above. They are trained in computers, communicative English and Indian Sign Language, with the program lasting from six months to one year.

Sneha Murali, who is a sign language interpreter says DLF is working to give deaf people a platform.

Most of the deaf schools in Coimbatore are Tamil medium. Hence, people have to undergo special training in English after they pass out from schools. We aim to improve, educate and empower deaf people. DLF gives them a platform to showcase their skills. - Sneha Murali, Sign Language Interpreter.

Post training, people are placed with companies or local organizations. So far, DLF claims to have helped out 1,000 people. They offer all this free of cost as many people are from economically backward families.

Mani, who is a manager here, says DLF believes in empowering deaf people to fight for their rights. "We do not have a regular source of income but get support from many kindhearted people who contribute generously towards our cause. The government has also been of great support. We hope we can expand our services to other parts of India as well. "<.p>

DLF holds an international deaf expo in every two years. The next one will be in Gujarat in 2019. Prominent people from across the globe come together to talk about education, teachings and new innovations.

It also holds a film festival every year for deaf filmmakers to come and showcase their movies in front of a large audience. This year's festival will be in Sri Lanka.

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