Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ignorance of Ability Brings Disability

I came across this video on Phani Raj's blog. It is an amazing short film that highlights our prejudices about what we believe disabled people can do.

Ignorance of Ability brings disability on Vimeo.

Monday, February 16, 2009

On Deafness and Approach to Inclusion of the Deaf

Inclusion of people with disabilities into mainstream is a topical subject with much discussion as well as research. I came across deafness through a school for the deaf that my friend runs. Through the last two years I have gotten a sense of how inclusion is being attempted for the deaf - both right and wrong.

Nobody really has a count of the deaf in India - some estimates put it at 50 million and there are others that indicate it is closer to 15 million. It probably is on the higher side since it's a disability that the families want to hide. The families consider the birth of a deaf child a curse and would go to extremes like hiding the child forever in their homes -- letting them lead miserable isolated lives. Also, the deaf do not have sympathy value - they look perfectly normal till you attempt to communicate with them. And because of this - they often get missed out in education, support and acknowledgement of their being different.

Inclusiveness for the deaf has been approached in a very odd way in India (continues most places even now). The schools, special educators and the doctors force the deaf to learn to speak and have them participate in the same class and school as the hearing children. I fail to understand the logic - they can't hear - so even if you can make them speak - they still can't hear! So how do they learn? It is logical that they communicate with a different language - a language that is not spoken but is visual. Sign Language.

Inclusiveness would here require the hearing people to expand their own selves and use sign language to communicate with the deaf, just as we expect the deaf to be able to speak with us using voice. Schools in India that use sign language as the medium of instruction are proving to be very effective. See to get an idea.

I have created a page here that initiates the hearing to the world of sign language - Indian sign language.