When S. Kailasam was made senior manager of Bank of Baroda, senior officials in the bank told him that he was the first hearing-impaired person to be elevated to such a high post in 100 years of the bank’s existence.

Mr. Kailasam, who participated in the meeting organised by the All India Deaf Bank Employees Association, was among the 500 such employees who have travelled from as far as Haryana, New Delhi, Tiruvalla in Kerala and Hyderabad to participate in its silver jubilee celebrations being held on Friday.

The association, founded in 1987 by five employees with hearing loss, now has 1,000 members. There are also women in the association but their experiences are a little different. A woman employee from New Delhi said as the only woman in the branch she was often not considered when incentives are given. Another woman complained of adverse remarks by male colleagues. A woman from Hyderabad said she preferred any job but that of a cashier.

For many employees the discrimination comes in the form of promotions. Quite a few of them said they had been denied promotions as they had failed the exams.

“How can we pass if we do not have the facilities that the blind and the orthopaedically challenged have? They can listen in on lectures and do well. We do not have the necessary facilities,” said an employee from Andhra Bank, who has worked for 29 years and failed the promotional exam thrice. Mohammed Yakoob, who has failed the exam six times has not been promoted but is expected to do the job of a bank officer, he said.

T. Raghava, honorary general secretary of the association, took voluntary retirement but has continued to work for the welfare of the hearing impaired. On its anniversary, the association has several demands, he explained.

The demands include recognition of the association by the Indian Banks’ Association, Mumbai. The IBA should give negotiation status to the association. “This will offer us a place in the IBA and we can place our demands on the table. We are denied conveyance that is given to the blind and the physically challenged. We may be earning well but there are some among us who are poor and could use the money. We are allowed special leave for occasions such as this but bank managements regularly deny us the privilege,” explained Mr. Kailasam.

The association want the banks to follow the Reserve Bank of India’s directive to provide special training in sign language. They also want protection of the one per cent reservation quota for the deaf. Many hearing-impaired persons were appointed to banks as sweepers and sub-staff under the reservation category and this should continue, they say.

On Friday, the nine zonal heads of the association and the founder members will be honoured for their services.

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