MindGrind Mondays : 1 certified interpreter for every 72000 deaf and mute people in India.
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on the 13th day of December, 2006 stated principles for empowerment of persons with disabilities which included: full and effective participation and inclusion in society, equality of opportunity; accessibility; respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities. Even though India is a signatory to this convention not much has been done in this pursuit. Though, whatever has been done is highly disproportionate across people with different disabilities.
Almost all developed nations have a deaf and mute interpreter for their broadcasts. Where were ours when PM Modi was addressing the nation on the lockdown and Covid situation?
Even though the usage of braille is convincingly widespread, there are only 250 certified sign language interpreters in India, translating for a deaf population of 18 million. This means that there is only one interpreter for 72,000 people. Even though Braille is used at blind schools, education institutions in India prefer speech therapy and lip-reading over Indian Sign Language. This is one of the main reasons that deaf and mute kids have an extremely hard time at school.
Even if they manage to pass exams, the amount of substantial education learned is very low. This level of poor education adds to the already present difficulties while finding jobs for the deaf and mute community and denies them their right of full and effective participation and inclusion in society, equality of opportunity and accessibility.
Just like every kid is most comfortable with their mother tongue and can thrive when encouraged through it, the deaf and mute community can undoubtedly thrive with the widespread use of sign language. This will enable them to receive higher education and qualify for better paying jobs. Normalising the use of sign language is the key to ensure quality education and employment for them. This way we can make a fuller use of the untapped talent and intellect that the deaf and mute community has to offer to the society at large.
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