Deaf people are gathering at Delhi's Jantar Mantar for a common cause
Disabled people go through numerous struggles to find access to education and job opportunities. Most of the time, their demands go unnoticed. Ever since the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 was introduced, things have become better. However, there are still plenty of deaf people struggling due to lack of opportunities.
Priority on Educational Training (PET), an NGO is bringing together deaf people to hold a march at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on 19 December. This march is going to bring together thousands of deaf people to raise their demands.
PET points out that deaf people are often marginalized in all sectors. For instance, there are very few schools or colleges for deaf people. Without that, it is quite difficult for a deaf person to land a good job with a good firm. Apathy of government is only worsening the situation.
Deaf people in cities are fortunate because they have wider options. What about someone who lives in a village? Even parents lack awareness about the need of a deaf person getting good education. Many of them still think that a deaf person cannot achieve anything. In spite of many opportunities in state and central levels, deaf people in villages are even unable to attend exams to get jobs. By holding this march, we hope to address many such issues. There must be transparency from the government when hiring deaf people- Umakanta Ray, Secretary, PET.
PET says even government schemes remain elusive. The National Handicap Finance and Development Corporation provide self-employment schemes for deaf people but most of it is unused because loans just keep getting delayed.
People who have severe hearing loss have different needs so opportunities must be provided accordingly. People from economically backward families also have a tough time reaching out for their benefits. The Indian Sign Language (ISL) too needs more prominence.
"If there are no exclusive deaf schools and universities, how can a deaf person graduate? All these are clearly discrimination. Teachers working for deaf schools must be awarded by the government for the work that they do. Their salaries are meagre and growth is often stagnant. In western countries, we see many deaf people as artists, actors and even politicians. But in India, the situation of a deaf person is just vulnerable. Through this march, we hope to empower and rehabilitate people from the deaf community. We want to spread awareness among deaf people and also their parents", says Ray.
Bhagwandas,Advisor, PET, is an ex government employee and he says that most of the schemes for deaf people are not availed of.
"There are many deaf NGOs across the country. The government has introduced schemes at state and central levels but nothing is implemented", he says.