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Noida Deaf Society's skilling program gives deaf youth a competitive edge in the job market

November 26, 2018

As a Food & Beverages Associate at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Noida, Ovaish Ahmed has a packed, hectic schedule.

Working in a leading five-star hotel comes with many pressures and demands, one that Ahmed initially struggled to cope with. Those early struggles are behind them thanks to the intensive training he underwent at the Noida Deaf Society (NDS), which also taught his team members at the hotel some basic sign language.

Ahmed, who faced a long and hard struggle to get to this point, is looking forward to making a mark at the workplace. "I learned communication skills at NDS, and before my interview, I went through a program that told me about the various job roles in the hotel industry," says Ahmed. "I also learned vocabulary that was related to jobs in a hotel. I also joined a soft skills training program to learn about professional attitudes and behaviors at the workplace."

Ahmed comes from Darbhanga, Bihar, and as is the case with most deaf youth in India, struggled for basic education. "The teachers never made an effort to teach deaf students. We copied from books or blackboard without knowing its meaning. I somehow managed to pass Class 8 and shifted to a regular school but this was also hard as I was expected to keep pace with hearing students."

He found his way to NDS, where he was put through a basic program in English and Indian Sign Language and went on to acquire computer skills. He had the benefit of learning from trainers who are not just skilled but empathetic, having been through similar experiences. Like Prince Tomar, who underwent training at NDS and chose to stay on and help other deaf youth like him.

All our training programs are mapped for the needs of the industry. These are courses that can lead to employment opportunities. Besides ISL and English literacy, the popular courses for deaf students are professionally assessed and certified computer courses such as hospitality, retail and mobile repair, to name a few. We have started a beauty culture course for the girls recently. A key skill program at NDS are the pre-employment trainings which develop workplace ethics and professional skill sets at the workplace. - Prince Tomar, Trainer, Noida Deaf Society

The courses are varied, ranging from 15 days to three months. Some students are put through the course twice if they fail to acquire the skills in the first attempt. Selection for advanced courses depends on clearing entry level programs. "We help them develop holistically through soft skills in building confidence and to eventually become capable individuals," says Tomar.

The fact that this year alone, NDS has placed over 200 deaf and hard of hearing youth in various companies is proof of how effective and comprehensive this skilling program is. By the end of this financial year, Ruma Roka, Founder, NDS hopes to reach a target of 300.

"It takes a year to get to a point where our students can meet industry needs," says Roka. "We have to start from scratch - what a is a job, what is a biodata, what is salary, etc. They need to understand the concept of meeting company expectations. Some kids learn fast, while other take time. There is a myth that deaf people will do better than others because their other faculties are heightened. That is often not the case because just like everyone else they have challenges."

Once the candidates are trained, there is a sensitization program done with the organizations that involves skill mapping, facilitating the interview process and setting up a buddy system in the company. "Initially I faced some difficulty to get used to the workplace," says Ahmed. "But I was soon able to get hold of the work situation and I try to do my best at my work now. "

What the training program help with is inculcating a sense of confidence and capability, something many deaf youths miss out on in their early years.

As Jisha Shibu, a former NDS student and now a primary teacher here, says, "I am enjoying my role very much. I am respected, and I get a satisfaction that I am able to help deaf children and help them learn better than I did in my schooling years. I have become more confident about myself and a more responsible human being."

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