Hearing impaired woman aims for foreign scholarship

By A Staff Reporter

New Delhi: Monica Nagpal cannot hear or speak.  And she earns Rs 1,500 per month working with the Delhi Foundation of Deaf Women.  Nagpal submitted her bio-data at the employment exchange three years ago, without yielding any result.  Now she is desperate for a job that would give her little more financial security.  And the good news is her dreams may come true.

 Nagpal and other members at the DFDW have been short listed for educational assistance and training at the Gallaudet University, USA.  This university claims to be the only one in the world that caters exclusively to deaf students, from nursery classes through PhD programmes.

 The DFDW has been selected along with four other deaf associations based in Nepal and Philippines, respectively, for the World Deaf Leadership program.  The winner among the five finalists will get US$ 60,000 a year for four years, for teacher and parent training and all of them get educational assistance from the university.

 On Friday, deaf children, women, and parents of deaf offsprings interacted with Robert T Mobley, Senda Benaissa, Beverly Hollrah and Arthur Lee, all faculty members from the university, as part of their assessment programme.  Though Indian and American sign languages are radically different, the former uses both hands while the latter only one hand for symbols.

 “All the Indian hearing impaired women we met today are extremely hardworking,” said Mobley, director, Centre for Global Education, Gallaudet University.  “They have put up a brave face against all odds.  The situation in USA is different from India as there you have mandates, legislation, provision for interpretation and other facilities for the hearing impaired.  Moreover, deaf women anywhere in the world seem to be facing more challenges than men in similar situations.”

Before the deaf Indian women enrol for advanced training, they will have to learn the American sign language.  “The Indian sign language combines British and local signs,” said hearing impaired Reenee Kuriyan, a founder member of the organisation.  “Our students will do bridge courses before they study advance levels.”

Interacting with the crowd was Krish Srikant, a DFDW member and son of a hearing impaired couple.  “No doubt life is tough for the deaf and dumb people,” he said.  “My parents can’t speak or hear so the sign language became my mother tongue.  They were able to sustain themselves but are living a better life after they received professional training.  And that is what we hope to achieve for the many deaf women dreaming of a better future as they stand in this room.” 

Agreed Rema N, a hearing impaired software operations student, who is looking forward to earning her livelihood.

 “We need to create deaf awareness in Delhi,” she said.  “People need to realise that those who can hear should be categorised as the ‘hearing’ and not as ‘normal.’  As the opposite of ‘normal’ is ‘abnormal’ and we are not abnormal in any way.”

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Source: The Times Of India

Dated: May 19, 2001