Education October 24, 2020
#GoodNewsSaturday – Pahal Foundation to conduct sign language classes across Mumbai slums
Encouraged by the response to their sign language workshop at a Mumbai slum during Daan Utsav, NGO Pahal Foundation plans to this a regular feature across more slums in the city.
“This is the first time someone came to our neighbourhood to teach us sign language”, says Salma, excitement written large over her face. “We learned so much and now when we meet a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, we will know how to communicate with them”.
15-year-old Salma glows with pride as she talks about her newly acquired skills in basic Indian sign language. A resident of Ambujwadi, a slum colony in Malvani, a Mumbai suburb, Salma got to learn some basic ISL at a children’s workshop held by NGO Pahal Foundation as part of the Daan Utsav celebrations.
The aim of the workshop was to build awareness about people with disabilities and promote inclusion among a critical age group. Encouraged by the response, Pahal Foundation plans to conduct more workshops in basic sign language across other slum colonies in Mumbai.
Workshop to spread inclusion
This is a new experience for Aniket Selganokar and Pradeep More, Founders, Pahal Foundation.
We have always taught adults, and this was our first experience teaching children from the slums. These children were not aware of Indian sign language and they come from underprivileged backgrounds where there are many stereotypes and stigma around disability. – Aniket Selganokar, Co-founder, Pahal Foundation
On the first day of the workshop, about seven children were present. As word spread, more turned up and on the second day, the number of children present were 15.
“We have decided to continue with this and go to different slum areas”, adds Aniket. Despite the Covid threat, they are determined to persist. “These children are at a critical stage where they are willing to listen and can be moulded”, he adds.
At Malvani, Pahal partnered with NGO Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan to conduct the workshop. It’s an approach that worked out well and they plan to approach other organisations in other slum colonies for similar workshops The ISL taught at these sessions is basic, matching the children’s needs. The sessions are conducted with the help of visual aids.
“ISL cannot be taught in eight days and the aim of these workshops is to build awareness and sensitisation”, adds Co-founder Pradeep.
Even these basic lessons have sparked a lot of interest. For instance, 17-year-old Ruchi Sharma, an Ambujwadi resident, is looking at learning ISL as a career prospect. “I have learned something new and I am sure by learning ISL I can make a career in this field”.
Pahal Foundation was started with the aim of empowering people with disabilities and to spread inclusion. Teaching lessons in sign language is a part of that mission to create awareness among non-disabled people. Pahal also conducts trainings in vital skills like personality development.
“In the course of our workshops we have seen that deaf children want to learn more about technologies”, adds Pradeep. “At this point we do not have the required support for that like laptops, etc. We would welcome any help in that direction”.
Watch in Sign Language
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