Deaf kids get helping hand on path to self-reliance

“I will make your sketch by the night,” said Amar, closing his fingers like he was dimming the sunlight, as he continued talking in sign language.

He is one among 109 children at the deaf school, a first of its kind initiative by the Indian Institute of Technology-Roorkee (IIT-R), which gives them vocational training and helps them become self-reliant and confident.

Aman conveyed through sign language about how much he enjoys his time at the school — Anushruti, which is celebrating its silver jubilee this year and has been an institution for children with hearing impairment who come here from far off areas. “It has been a wonderful experience. I have learned a lot here,” said Aman.

Anasuya Banerji, president of the school, said, “The school which started with humble beginnings, and just two students, has now helped thousands and enabled them to be self-reliant.”

“The school is based on community model. We educate these children and also help them in various vocational skills like stitching, cookery, art and craft,” said Banerji, who is the wife of IIT-R Director Pradipta Banerji.

IIT-R is the only institution in the country to support this kind of an initiative.

Evolved from the confluence of two words “anu” (meaning small) and “shruti” (meaning sound), the school came into being in 1989. It has now at least 10 faculty members, experts and counsellors who have the expertise and experience to teach the deaf children, who are generally in the six to 20 years old.

Even though the school is meant for deaf children, at times, there are children who can’t speak properly or not at all. Hence, the school offers a combination of various techniques to combat both issues.

“Techniques like using repetitive sounds, like the knocking of a door, or a doorbell sound are used to increase the attention span of these children,” said Shazia Farhat, a faculty member.

Fourteen-year-old Adhiba and Aftar Jahan, 16, have benefited massively by enrolling themselves in the school. “The school has completely changed the life of my two daughters who couldn’t speak,” said their mother Nirmala Negi.

The school has now started inviting visiting faculty to give more exposure to the children.

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