Deaf Enabled Foundation
While a lot of Indian dances include beautiful storytelling through the hands, many deaf children in India still struggle to receive access to sign language and proper education. In the Indian Census of 2011, 1.3 million persons were listed as “hearing disabled.” They are faced with teachers in their youth who do not know sign language and do not make sure they understand all of the course material. However, in Pondicherry, adjacent to Auroville, there is one branch of an NGO which hopes to aid in the inclusion of Deaf adults in the Indian society through their programs in educational and professional skill building.
The Deaf Enabled Foundation (DEF) aims to achieve equal access for deaf people in every area of their lives. They are dedicated to work for the development of the Deaf community, enhancing the quality of life, providing educational facilities, promoting social and cultural awareness while working towards independence and barrier free communication for the Deaf.
I was lucky enough to sit down with a few students who shared their stories with me. One of which was Anusuya Ramasamy who will become a teacher for the Deaf Enabled Foundation in the near future.
“I grew up with hearing parents and a Deaf sister. I did most of my learning through reading and writing. Before, I was studying in a college with hearing people and struggling. That’s when I came to Deaf Enabled Foundation. They told me that I could go to St. Louis College for the Deaf. At this college, I still had many hearing teachers who were not fluent in sign language, but I was able to earn my Bachelor of Commerce degree. After I finished, I struggled to find work with all the barriers for the deaf in the Indian society. So I decided to enroll in the vocational training program at DEF to keep developing myself. I learned so much and improved my English and computer skills a lot. After finishing the program, I decided I wanted to become a teacher with the Deaf Enabled Foundation here in Puducherry and will soon complete my training!”
Stories like this show us that the work of NGO’s such as the Deaf Enabled Foundation can really aid in creating a brighter future and a sense of community. Almost everyone I talked to had told me about their great experience and the ease of learning through sign language rather than oral communication. Other students I talked to in the Hyderabad location are even working toward their master degrees!