The speech and hearing impaired women who gathered at Church Park Presentation Convent School to celebrate International Women's Day on Sunday communicated their need to be understood and interpreted.

The women were participating in an event organised by Deaf EnAbled Foundation, which began reaching out to women in Chennai three years ago. The 100 women participants spent the morning playing indoor games. Post-lunch, M. Ramya, Director, Communication, made a presentation on women achievers. She spoke about Myanmar's leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and hearing and speech impaired women such as Vaishnavi Jayaraman, a single mother who runs a petrol bunk in Coimbatore. “They symbolise confidence and independence which women from districts sometimes lack. We want the women to come forward, become achievers,” she adds.

Srimathi Jayakumar, 32, works in the back office of an international bank. Though she has been in the company for five years she does not benefit from the company's in-house training programmes. “I want to grow in my profession, but as there are no interpreters I lose out on training sessions,” Ms. Jayakumar mimes. “If others get three weeks of training to update their knowledge, I get only one week and it is not enough,” she adds.

S. Rajeswari, 23, of Tindivanam could not study beyond standard VII as her parents would not send her to a residential school. Rajeswari works in a shoe-making unit for a daily wage of Rs.70.

S. Anbuvizhi, 25, who works as a maid in an expatriate's house in Puducherry wants an interpreter who would explain to her parents about her wish to marry. “The groom's parents have agreed to the proposal but my parents do not understand my needs. I need an interpreter to explain to them my feelings,” she says. She proposes to start an empowerment programme in Puducherry.

Sunday's event, which was organised by women, aims to encourage women to learn from the achievers to take up vocational courses, learn practical life skills, English and to operate computers.

The Foundation on its part is evolving a uniform sign language incorporating the various ‘dialects' used by the speech and hearing impaired persons across the country. “We are lobbying for interpreters in hospitals, training programmes and for inclusion of sign language as a scheduled language,” says Ms. Ramya, who hails from a family of persons with speech and hearing impairment.

Keywords: Women's Day

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