Concerns of hearing impaired not addressed, says association

On World Disability Day, the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People and the National Association of the Deaf have demanded official language status for sign language and training of people to become sign language interpreters at public places.

Addressing hearing impaired persons who carried out a silent march at India Gate here on Saturday to protest against the Union government's silence on their concerns, NAD president Zorin Singha, aided by an interpreter, said India was home to over 70 million people with disabilities.

“Of this, 18 million are people with hearing impairment. Unfortunately, the concerns of the deaf people in India have not been addressed even 64 years after Independence.”

Empathising with the problems faced by deaf persons on a daily basis, Mr. Singha said: “You cannot go to school or watch television. And God forbid if you have to go to the police station or hospital for an emergency. If you go to the railway station to catch a train and suddenly there is an announcement that your train has been postponed or the platform number has suddenly changed. But you cannot hear a word. It is a matter of concern that there are no visual announcements for hearing impaired people and no visual emergency alarms in case a fire breaks out in a building.”

Expressing concern over the movement of the hearing impaired being in a nascent state, Mr. Zorin said the NAD advocates for the rights of the hearing impaired and liaises with the government and policy makers.

“We are currently hosting State-level meetings across the country to spread awareness among hearing impaired people on their rights and to also recruit more members.”

Reminding that the High Court in a recent ruling had ordered that a survey must be undertaken in public buildings, hospitals, airports, railway stations that require sign language interpreters, NCPEDP director Javed Abidi said:

“In this country, we have 18 million hearing impaired people but only 250 certified interpreters by a conservative estimate. If we are having dearth of sign language interpreters, then how would we deploy them at public places ?”

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