Education October 2, 2020
Sign language, photography & disability awareness come together at this Mumbai slum
DaanUtsav begins today, the annual week-long festival of philanthropy that brings together individuals and organisations across India. This year, children living in Ambujwadi, a basti in Mumbai’s Malvani suburb will get to learn photography skills from a group of deaf photographers and pick up basic Indian sign language skills. This is an initiative by Pahal Foundation and Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan.
Information Technology professional Akshay Mandhare pursues photography as a hobby. For the next one week he is teaching these skills to a bunch of children living in Ambujwadi, a slum colony in Mumbai’s Malvani suburb.
Along with tips on camera angles and using natural light, the children will also be taught basic Indian sign language. While Akshay focuses on the photography lessons, the ISL lessons will be taught by Pradeep More, Founder-Director, Pahal Foundation. “I have seen many hearing people tease and mock deaf people for using sign language. I hope this will help change the mentality and attitude of hearing people”, says Akshay.
This is an initiative organised by Pahal Foundation and Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan and Kindness Unlimited for the annual DaanUtsav festival.
Empowering message about Deaf
While Pahal Foundation works to empower the deaf community in the fields of education and accessibility, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan is a people’s movement that teaches, among other things, leadership skills to marginalised communities.
Malvani is the second largest slum in Mumbai and we are more than happy to teach ISL to the children here as it will help build awareness among a critical age group. Given the larger lack of awareness about disability and disabled people, this is an opportunity to build sensitivity and empathy. – Pradeep More, Founder-Director, Pahal Foundation
Chhitra Subramanian, who supports the community kitchen at Malvani for Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, agrees. “This is an important initiative as opportunities to interact with disabled people are few and this will help open communication. Communication is necessary to normalise disability. Sessions like these will not change attitudes completely but are like a drop of awareness.“
The sessions will combine art, craft, photography and sign language and promise to be a good blend of fun and learning. “They will get to experience all this from someone with a disability”, adds Chhitra. “This will also help build a layer of confidence and create subliminal messages that stay with us”.
Pradeep also hopes to trigger a change in the typical stereotypes about disability. “We are regarded as beggars or bechaaras and that has to change. Disabled people are capable of being successful and spreading happiness. These children will see that”.
Akshay sees this as an opportunity to spread a larger message of inclusion and equality. “Society will see that being deaf does not matter, that deaf people be an equally giving part of the society”.
Watch in Sign Language
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