Friday, September 21, 2007

India USA Deaf Youth Empowerment Camp 2007

Working together to overcome disability

Staff Reporter

Seven-day cultural camp aims at empowering persons with hearing disability

Bangalore: A cluster of young people from the U.S. and India — all people with hearing disability — are working towards empowering one another at a seven-day cultural camp here.

The programme, which began earlier in the week, was organised by the Global Reach Out Initiative (GRO). Some of the challenges they face, according to Director of the Disabled and Senior Citizens Welfare Department V. Shrirama Reddy, include the absence of facilities for people with hearing disability to pursue college education although there are 39 schools for them.

The participants had a role model in Anantadev Das (52), founder-president of Sanatana Dharma for the Deaf (SDD), who had fought a lone battle to become the first Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) graduate with hearing disability in Mumbai.
They learnt that they too can make a difference.

Mr. Das, however, lamented that the employment opportunities for students with hearing disability were almost nil in India. This was in contrast to the situation abroad, where employers provided interpreters so that people with hearing disability could work easily.
In India, however, this concept was yet to catch up, he said.

It was pointed out at the camp that people with hearing disability had one problem.
The Indian sign language was slightly mixed up and not standardised as in the U.S. According to Kripa Damas, coordinator of the Sign Language Department, Dr. S.R. Chandrasekhar Institute of Speech & Hearing, the sign language differs from place to place as culture and dialects influence it.
At the camp, however, the participants overcame this problem by taking recourse to reading of basic gfestures and lip-reading.
Global Reach Out Initiative co-ordinator Smitha Hanumantha said that the camp would encourage the participants to use visual media such as plays to communicate their ideas.
( Taken from The Hindu, 24th June 2007 )
GRO Member KJ's Appreciation
Instead of writing of negative experiences, which thankfully were few and far in between, I would like to give props to those who deserve it.

In no particular order:

The Indian delegates. Anu, Anil, Bharath, Krishna, Vikas, Roopa, Fathima, and Anand. I know that we all had doubts about the effectiveness of our work, if any, but you all quickly dispelled any doubts that we had. Even if it was different than what we all originally imagined, it was clear from your skit at the closing ceremony that we did have an impact. More importantly, it was clear that you guys learned from this experience and our hope is that you will take it all to heart and continue the work that we started together.

Anantadev Das. For your honesty and your patience. This program would not have been a success without you and I know that we all hope to be able to work with you again.

Chandra Mouli. I think we all fell in love with your giggle! What I am most impressed with is your positive attitude at all times. We know it is not easy, as you always say. Yet, you manage to pull it off and it is clear that you have the best interests of the Indian Deaf at heart.