Reaching out to the disabled section of the population requires not only service-mindedness but also perseverance to overcome challenges and commitment to remain rooted in the initiative with undiminished zeal.

These were the traits that earned for 43-year-old K. Geetha, Special Educator, the State Award for the Best Teacher in the field of Hearing Impairment.

She received the award from Social Welfare Minister Geetha Jeevan in the presence of the Chairperson of Social Welfare Board Salma, State Commissioner for the Disabled C. Vijayaraj Kumar and other senior officials, on the occasion of the observance of International Day for the Disabled 2009 at Chennai.

Subsequently, Collector T. Soundiah and District Disabled Rehabilitation Officer K. Shyamala honoured her and other awardees at a felicitation function here.

A recipient of Annai Veerammal Award from Tamil Nadu Women Welfare Society and the Anbu Paalam Award for Humanitarianism in the recent years, Ms. Geetha has been working with disabled children for 19 years now.

After her post-graduation in Rehabilitation Science at Holy Cross College, Tiruchi, she completed her Diploma in Speech and Hearing Impairment at Holland. Upon her return, she did her B.Ed in special education.

Following a stint as a volunteer at Holy Cross Service Society and as a consultant, she worked as lecturer at Holy Cross College for eight years before founding Maharishi Vidhya Mandir Service Centre for the Hearing Impaired in 1998.

Since then, the centre could mainstream 300 hearing impaired children into the normal school system.

Ms. Geetha started Pravaag Transitional Centre for Children with Autism in 2006. Her current research at the Thanjavur Tamil University is on the topic ‘Syntactic Structure of Hearing Impaired Children in Tamil’.

As for hearing impairment, early intervention necessarily determines the impact of speech therapy. Leaving aside myths, parents need to seek professional help before the children attain the age of six years. Government support for appointment of speech therapists at rehabilitation centres will help a great deal, she felt.

Ms. Geetha holds special teachers in high esteem.

Right remuneration

They ought to be given the right remuneration in recognition of their execution of multiple tasks of parents, teachers, and personal attenders.

After appropriate schooling, such children, pointed out Ms. Geetha, could be transformed into human resource with adequate vocational training. Of late, there has been an appreciable rise in Government allocation for the disabled people through good programmes. What is required now is involvement of field-level professionals in conceptualisation of policies and implementation, she opined. Equally important is creation of a mechanism for coordination between Medical and rehabilitation professionals in such exercises.