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← Education and jobs for the deaf | Ruma Roka

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Showing Revision 10 created 04/09/2018 by Dean.

  1. Didn't understand anything, did you?

  2. (Laughter)
  3. That's 63 million deaf people in India
  4. who go through this
    year after year, day after day,
  5. trying to make sense
    of a world they cannot hear.
  6. Huge lack of awareness and social stigma
  7. of having a child
    that is differently-abled.
  8. Parents run from pillar to post
  9. trying to understand
    how to bring up their child.
  10. And they are told,
    "Even though your child can't hear,
  11. there is nothing wrong with his voice box.
  12. There's nothing wrong
    with his vocal chords
  13. and he can be eventually
    taught how to speak."
  14. There starts the journey
    of years being spent trying to teach
  15. this little child how to articulate words
    that he cannot hear.
  16. Even within the family,
    this little child wants
  17. to communicate with his parents.
  18. He wants to be part
    of the conversations in the family.
  19. But he can't. And he doesn't understand
    why nobody is listening to him.
  20. So he feels isolated and misses out
  21. on a crucial skill that is required
    when we grow up.
  22. He goes to school thinking, "Okay,
    hopefully things will be different."
  23. And he finds the teachers
    opening their mouths and closing
  24. and writing these strange things
    on the board.
  25. Without understanding,
    because he can't hear,
  26. he copies it all down,
    regurgitates it at the exam time,
  27. and by rote and a few grace marks,
    he finishes school, class ten.
  28. What are his chances of employment?
  29. Here is this child who really doesn't have
    any real education.
  30. Visual words, vocabulary
    of thirty to forty words.
  31. He's emotionally insecure, he's probably
    angry with the whole world also,
  32. which has, he feels has
    systematically disabled him.
  33. Where does he work?
    Menial labor, unskilled jobs,
  34. often in very abusive conditions.
  35. That's where my "birth" journey starts
    in 2004. I don't have, as Kelly said,
  36. I don't have any family who are deaf.
  37. Just a strange pull and,
    no rational thought.
  38. I jumped into this world
    and learned sign language.
  39. At that time, it was a challenge.
    Nobody wanted... Nobody seemed to know...
  40. "What is it that you want to learn, Ruma?
    Is that a language?"
  41. Anyway, learning sign language
    opened up my life to this community
  42. which is outwardly silent,
    but is brimming
  43. with the passion and curiosity
    as visual learners.
  44. And I heard their stories
    of what they wanted to do.
  45. And a year later, in 2005,
    with meager savings of about $5,000
  46. of a matured insurance policy,
    I started this center,
  47. in a small two-bedroom flat
    with just six students
  48. and me teaching them English
    in sign language.
  49. The challenges, the need of the hour
    at that point was,
  50. how do I get these kids who just
    high school pass
  51. into real jobs into the companies?
  52. Jobs of dignity, jobs that can prove
    that deaf are not dumb?
  53. So, the challenges were huge.
    The deaf were years sitting like this
  54. and years of ennui and darkness.
  55. They needed to believe in themselves.
    The parents needed to be convinced
  56. that this child is not deaf and dumb.
  57. And he's capable of standing
    on his own two feet.
  58. But most importantly,
  59. would the employer employ
    somebody who couldn't speak,
  60. couldn't hear, and very much
    couldn't read or write either?
  61. I sat together with some of my friends
    from the industry,
  62. and I shared with them my story
    about what it meant to be deaf.
  63. And I understood there were
    clear areas in companies
  64. where deaf could work, deaf people
    could work as a great value add.
  65. And with meager resources,
    we created the first ever
  66. vocational training curriculum for
    deaf people in the country.
  67. Finding trainers was a problem.
    So I trained my deaf kids,
  68. my students, to become
    the teachers for the Deaf.
  69. And it's a job they took on
    with great responsibility and pride.
  70. Still, the employer was skeptic.
    Education, qualification, 10th pass.
  71. "No, no, no, Ruma,
    we cannot employ him."
  72. That was a big problem.
  73. "And even if we did employ him,
  74. how are we going to communicate
    with him? He can't read, write.
  75. Can't hear/speak."
  76. I just told them, "Please can we
    take it just one step at a time?
  77. You know, can we focus
    on what he can do?
  78. He's a great visual person.
    He can work. And...
  79. and if it works wonderful, if it doesn't,
    we will at least know."
  80. Here I would like to share
    a story about Vishu Kapoor.
  81. He came to us in 2009
    with no language at all.
  82. He didn't even know sign language.
  83. All he saw, processed in his brain
    was through his eyes.
  84. His mother was in despair and
    she says,
  85. "Ruma, can I please keep him
    in your center for two hours?
  86. It's really difficult for me
    to manage him,
  87. you know manage with him
    24 hours a day."
  88. So I said, "Yeah, okay."
    Like a crash service.
  89. It took us a very painstaking
    one a half years for us
  90. to give Vishu a language.
    As he started communicating and
  91. he got a sense of self and
    he understand that there was...
  92. I mean he couldn't hear, but heck,
    he could do so many other things.
  93. He figured out that he liked to work
    on the computers.
  94. We encouraged him, motivated him,
  95. and put him through our I.T. programs.
    He cleared all the tests, you know,
  96. much to my nervousness.
    An opening came one day
  97. in the back end of
    a very well-known I.T. company,
  98. and just for the exposure and
    the experience, I said,
  99. "Let Vishu also go
    for this job interview."
  100. Vishu went there and cleared
    all the technical tests.
  101. Even then I said, "Uh, I just hope
    he will be able to stick on
  102. for 6 months at least."
  103. It's been a year and a half now.
  104. Vishu is stil there,
    and he's not only just,
  105. 'oh, this poor guy working in
    this hearing environment.'
  106. He is winning laurels as best employee
    of the month, not once but two times.
  107. (Applause)
  108. And I want to share with you that,
    today, it takes us about
  109. a year and a half to teach
    a deaf person to get ready
  110. to get into this real world
    that we know about.
  111. In a short time of 6 years, today
    500 of my wonderful young students
  112. are working in some of
    the top organizations in the industry:
  113. in graphic design profiles,
    in the back end of I.T. organizations,
  114. in hospitality,
    in barrier breaking employment
  115. like in the security, and in banks.
  116. And also in retail outlets, and
    doing direct customer service.
  117. (Applause)
  118. Directly facing people like
    you and me in KFC, in coffee outlets.
  119. I just leave you with
    a small little thought that,
  120. yes, change is possible.
  121. And it just starts with one little
    change in our perspective.
  122. Thank you so much.
  123. (Applause)
  124. And this is applause,
    it's an international sign for applause.
  125. Thank you so much.