Janakesh, a painter made it to Class IX with difficulty. But, was forced to quit his studies after he failed. A hearing impaired person, he used to memorise everything that was written on the board and that is what he wrote during his exams.
However, this technique could not take him beyond Class IX.
“There was no one to help me understand what was happening in the class and after I failed to clear my exams, I decided to quit school,” he says.
It has been over 10 years since Janakesh gave up studying but there are many for whom even clearing their board exams is a distant dream.
The lack of proper trainers is causing students with hearing disability to drop out of schools.
At a workshop organised by the Association of People with Disability (in the City, people with hearing impairment came from across 15 districts to share their experiences and to look forward to new schemes that will enable them to get better education and better career opportunities.
Lakshmi Iyengar’s 12-year-old-daughter, Padma is deaf and is currently studying in a regular school. But, it is very difficult for her to cope with her classmates as she is devoid of a special instructor. She understands very little of what is happening in the class. Her classmates too are not co-operative and each day in school is a struggle for her. “She is not a poor student,” says Lakshmi. “She is very good in sports. The problem is just in communicating.”
No special instructors
To overcome this, many have learned to communicate through sign language but there are hardly any regular schools that allow special instructors to help these students. In fact, there are schools that have actually refused to admit these students on the grounds that they should be sent to special schools and not the regular ones.
Chennabasappa, a farmer, approached several schools for his son’s admission. But, since his son was deaf, he was turned away from all of the schools. He was also told that his son did not deserve admission to a “normal” school.
Chennabasappa finally managed to get his son admitted to a government school but he dropped out after a few years, unable to cope with the classes.
Though public schools such as Kendriya Vidyalaya admit hearing-impaired children, they do not have any special instructors.
For most private schools, hiring a special instructor is not the issue, they feel that even with the instructor, the students with hearing impairment may not feel completely at ease. Some schools such as the Delhi Public School (DPS)do have teachers who help students with sign language during some of the classes but not all of them.
“They need to be independent. Even though we provide extra care to them, we cannot hold their hands throughout the classes,” says Manju Sharma, the principal of DPS South.
Though there are a few such special schools in the state, they cannot match up to the number of students who apply for such courses.
The course fees of most of these schools are too high for those belonging to the lower middle class families.
Even if these students manage to finish their schooling, their options for higher studies are very limited. Adarsha PU college is the only known college in the state that offers help to such students. The college allows a special instructor in class who uses sign language to translate the class instructions.