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Calendar accessible to people who are deaf & hard of hearing released in some schools

The Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC) has released a calendar for 2019 that has special features for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. The calendar has been released to a few deaf schools in three states as part of an educational programme. These are schools located in Tumkur, Karnataka, Gurugram, Haryana, and Indore in Madhya Pradesh.

The calendar has QR code markings on each page and the user can scan the videos linked to the code with the help of a smartphone. Each video has a sign language interpreter who will explain the importance of every festival and important day that is marked on the calendar. Be it the Independence Day or festivals like Diwali, Christmas and Eid, all will be represented in Indian Sign Language.

The table calendar has been developed by the ISLRTC for the Ministry of Social Justice. Every page gives a visual depiction of the all the days observed as national holidays, which experts say is a good idea as deaf people prefer visual inputs in sign language as that is the medium they are most comfortable with.

"The calendar was prepared as part of a pilot phase in an educational programme involving deaf schools in three states", said Priti Sapra, Project Coordinator, ISLRTC. "It is part of the educational materials being used by the students in these schools".

The deaf community has welcomed the launch of the calendar. They say making it available to a wider audience will help promote greater awareness about Indian Sign Language.

It has QR codes so we can share this with a large number of people on WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media. It is useful for the deaf community as well as the hearing youth in learning sign language. - Rushabh Bhansali, Deaf youth

Such steps, say experts, will help build greater awareness about inclusion and accessibility. "Any initiative that propagates the necessity of Indian sign language and makes knowledge and information available for members of the Deaf community is welcome and is to be lauded", says Ruma Roka, Founder, Noida Deaf Society.

The 2019 calendar was shared with various government ministries in September to build greater awareness about the use of sign language and inclusion. Various attempts are being made to encourage use of sign language. The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities has written to various ministries asking that sign language interpreters be present at all government functions.

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