Deaf, mute and their right to education: Despite an 8-lakh strong population, no junior or senior college caters to them

Vaishali, 41 years old and Santosh Nade 42 years old, both deaf and dumb, live in one room of 20 by 20 feet in Nashik. Both of them have studied till XII but could not secure job anywhere till now. Their two daughters, both deaf, have to leave school after Class XII as they do not have money to go to college; their younger son is in Class IX. They have been surviving with the financial help from Vaishali’s parents otherwise they have no means to earn livelihood due to their disability.

On February 27, they travelled to Pune to participate in the rally organised by State Level Association of the Deaf (SLAD). Over 5000 deaf and mute across Maharashtra gathered outside Social Justice Commissionarate in Pune for various demands including the right to education.

Prakash Phadake, vice president, SLAD, who is also from Nashik, said, “Deaf and dumb are not intellectually challenged. They can study and work like those of normal people. We want the government to avail us basic education and job opportunities so that we can earn for ourselves. We do not require sympathy.”

Members present at the rally. Firstpost/Varsha Talgaonkar

Members present at the rally. Firstpost/Varsha Tolgarkar

According to 2011 census, Maharashtra has 4.73 lakh deaf and 4.76 lakh mute from the age of one and above. However, the state has only three government-run schools that are in Akola, Aurangabad and Raigad where over 150 students study. The state has 265 schools for deaf and mute that are granted, while 24 schools are private. Over 20,000 students are studying in these schools.

Manoj Patwari, president of SLAD, who led the march, said, “Teachers in these schools are normal people without disability. They teach with lip movement reading that students struggle to understand. Instead we should be taught in sign language that we understand. In fact government should start courses or degrees for sign language as subject.”

Most of the above schools are there till Class VII or till Class X. The state does not have single junior or senior college. The deaf and mute have to drop out of education or take admission for long distance courses. Or they have to take admission in colleges meant for those without any physical challenges.

In regular colleges, they face a series of hurdles. To overcome low esteem born out of their disability while studying in colleges, where most of the students have no physical challenges, is pretty difficult. And most of them do not seek admission or prefer to drop out after joining.

Members present at the rally. Firstpost/Varsha Talgaonkar

Members present at the rally. Firstpost/Varsha Tolgarkar

Besides, none of these colleges avail interpreters or lecturers who can teach physically challenged students in sign language. The students, therefore, have to get help from students or close friends/relatives to study.

Patwari said, “State government should found government run schools, junior and senior colleges for deaf and dumb at all divisions — Aurangabad, Amaravati, Pune, Mumbai, Nashik. We should get opportunity to study science, arts or commerce. There should be interpreter or sign language teacher in engineering, medical, pharmacy, paramedical and nursing colleges so that we can get commercial degrees to earn livelihood. There should be D. Ed and B. Ed colleges for the deaf and mute or reserve seats in regular colleges.” They also want vocational training courses or skill development courses like Industrial Training Institutes dedicated for the disabled.

According to the Persons with Disability Act 1995, one percent jobs in government and private agencies are reserved for them. But those jobs have conditions like having degree certificates from known universities across India.

Their demands were simple: Education needs for deaf and mute should be taken into consideration. Firstpost/Varsha Talgaonkar

Their demands were simple: Education needs for deaf and mute should be taken into consideration. Firstpost/Varsha Torgalkar

Arvinda Karbhari, a hearing impaired participant from Osmanabad said, “In January 2017, Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation has published advertisement of recruitment for several of posts. The post reserved for deaf and dumb requires applicants to have degree certificates. How can we study when there is not a single college for us. Most of the government agencies issue advertisements like this and thus most of the posts meant for us remain vacant. Despite us having talent, a will to study, we do not get opportunities meant for us. We want the government to make sure there should not be condition of graduation for posts meant for us.”

They accused that most of the government agencies either do not hire deaf and mute over trivial reasons or hire those without challenges under their quota. “Many people without disability take benefits meant for us. Currently anybody can avail certificate of deaf and dumb with simple audio-metry test in which applicant is asked whether he can listen. If he says no, he can be given certificate. Instead there should be advanced Brain Stem Evoked Response Audiometry Test.”

Nitin Daghe, deputy commissioner, Social Justice Department, said, “Most of their demands are related to education, technical and other department to which we have already communicated. We have begun to integrate deaf and dumb in mainstream education with early detection of disabilities and availing them therapies like speech therapy.” But the programme to integrate them in mainstream education has begun this year and will be beneficial to to those who are 4-5 years old.

They also want the RTO grant driving licenses as per orders of the Supreme Court. News channels and newspapers should make sure to use sign language so that they can avail themselves with latest current affairs.

Updated Date: Mar 01, 2017 12:04 PM

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