Get-hooked December 1, 2020
“Will highlight critical issues about people with deafblindness & visibility in 2030 Agenda”, says deafblind activist Shruti Lata Singh ahead of UN session
1 December is the 13th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) at the United Nations. Observing the first session will be Shruti Lata Singh, Advocacy Officer, Sense International (India) and India’s first deafblind physiotherapist. On My Take she talks about the challenges she has overcome and her vision for India’s deafblind youth.
The first session of the Conference of States Parties (COSP13) is a roundtable on the topic of ‘Disability and business: Realizing the right to work in open, inclusive and accessible environments for persons with disabilities‘. There will be a few panellists presenting and I will be observing the session.
I am there to intervene on behalf of civil society and to highlight critical issues about people with deafblindness and underline the need for our visibility in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Developmental Goals. I will seek assurance from agencies of the United Nations in this regard.
I am 27 years old, originally from Jharkhand and was born in Jamshedpur. We are family of five. My mother is a medical officer in the Civil Hospital in Himmatnagar and father a retired railway engineer. My elder sister is a software engineer based in Nagpur. I have an older brother with progressive deafblindness who works at the Central Bank of India, Ahmedabad. I am blessed to have a supportive family and because they are well-educated they are able to support me well.
Challenges of progressive deafblindness
There were challenges of course. I have progressive deafblindness, so it only keeps getting worse. As a child, I could not hear the teacher in class nor see what was written on the blackboard. That was the reason I did not do well. Since my family is well educated, they were able to help. I could not make friends in school but was close to my family. My parents being a bit old fashioned would not let me go out alone because I am a girl.
Being women with deafblindness is a bigger challenge as I cannot travel alone. I hope to overcome this someday.
My greatest achievement was being able to complete schooling in a mainstream system without any special support. That too when I could never see or hear much in the classroom. I studied biology in class 12 and completed my B.A. in English from the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). I mostly did this by self-study.
I went on to earn a diploma in physiotherapy from the Blind Peoples’ Association, Ahmedabad, and I am the first person in India to become a qualified physiotherapist. I also have a certificate in nutrition and have won some awards.
India’s first deafblind physiotherapist
I wish to do a lot of things in life. Sense International (India) has and Blind Peoples’ Association have given me opportunities to speak at various platforms and now representing the community on an international platform is a big achievement.
My vision is a world where deafblind people will be courageous enough to challenge others. I want a world where women with deafblindness can go out without any fear in a country like ours. I want a world that is fully accessible, inclusive, and encouraging. I want to make everyone aware that there is a condition called deafblindness and it can limit a person’s performance considerably.
I was labelled as a dull student and there are many others facing the same situation. Education is key to tackle such problems. I talked about how my family was well educated and could help me. Many others are not so fortunate.
Low self-esteem among persons with disabilities is common and this is largely because of the negativity of society. I want to change this. I do not want deafblind youth to remain dependent on others for employment. instead, they all should have something of their own for which they need guidance and I hope to be able to provide this guidance. They should be aware of their rights and how to use it.
Watch in Sign Language
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