Seal their dream by securing admission to the six-year integrated B.Tech course in Kalasalingam University

Adityan, Sanjeev Kumar, and Madhimaran, are palpably excited as they discuss living away from home, eating out and managing money-things they’ve never done before. That the animated conversation is carried out through signs and the cochlear implants embedded in the ear are give-aways that they are not your average students.

For the hearing impaired trio from Maharishi Vidya Mandir School for hearing impaired, their engineering dreams are closer to reality with admission Kalasalingam University, Virudhunagar district. The six year integrated B.Tech (Speech and Hearing Impaired Persons) course is open to students after S.S.L.C.

“Getting through Class X was a big challenge for us. But knowing that my son will get to be an engineer like other kids and earn his own income is unbelievable,” says Ravichandran father of Manimaran. “Ten years ago when we admitted him to the school we did not dream this would be possible,” says his wife Pouna.

Tiding over change in syllabus

Only one student from the seven batches that passed out of the school has made it to engineering stream so far, notes Geetha, director of the school. An admission test not withstanding, students had to clear all papers in the first attempt and manage a score above 60 per cent in Mathematics and Science.

“The students worked really hard. It was all the more tough this year with the introduction of Samacheer Kalvi syllabus,” says Josephine, the headmistress.

Hearing impaired students are prescribed the same syllabus as their counterparts in regular schools, but are exempted from the language paper. However, they are highly dependent on adaptive learning materials and visual aids, which were limited this year being the first batch under the new syllabus.

“It was determination to study together in college that motivated them,” says Shyamala, mother of Sanjeev. But for the commitment of the parents, the students could not have aced the exams, believes Geetha. “I am a working mother and I took a month’s leave before the exams as he needed me to explain things to him,” says Latha, Adityan’s mother.

The parents pooled together resources to conduct scientific experiments, download video clips and make models to explain abstract concepts for the students. “The teachers would give us regular feedback even if we called them late at night,” says Shymala.

New challenges

But securing admission is just the beginning of a new string of challenges, acknowledge parents.

Riding on the high confidence levels of their wards who are least apprehensive about a new environment, they hope they discover sports and other interests.

From the sheltered environment of the school and with children with disabilities for companions are they anxious about fitting in a mixed crowd. “No,” asserts Manimaran confidently. “I will talk to everyone.” Though their speech is not coherent, it has developed by leaps and bounds, confirm parents. Incompetence in English is a drawback for these children, particularly when it comes to operating the computer.

The course would introduce them to fundamental English says parents. “Our dream is only to make them self-reliant,” says Sanjeev’s grandfather. “They have other options other than vocational training. The three per cent reservation in government jobs may help them land lucrative jobs.”