16th September, 2018
Point of View, Anita Narayan.
A PIL has been filed for making ISL an official language of India. ISL is a beautiful language, but, in my experience, not ready for this status yet. This is my unsolicited but definitely well qualified PoV.
At the outset, I reiterate that I am and have been a huge supporter of ISL all my life and officially from 2007 onwards. Under the banner of my NGO, we have taught the small vocabulary that is officially available through interpreters, instructors, etc. to persons from within and outside the deaf ‘community’. I would be the happiest to see ISL being used extensively in India but do not think it can happen in its current form.
There are comparisons being made to ASL all the time. Many deaf individuals claim they LEARNT ASL late in life and didn't sign till then as they were advised the oral/aural methods. What does LEARN ASL mean for a person who is Deaf? That it is a language to be LEARNT. That it does not develop at home, in a vacuum.That it is available as a course for hearing and deaf people alike to learn to communicate.
It is very important that ISL be strengthened in vocabulary, scope and use before it is given any official status. It is also important that it is taught and learnt, and available to everyone to learn like all other official languages. It is important also, that it has enough vocabulary for higher education to happen in the language. Bilingualism is great but if ISL is to be recognized, it has to be a full-fledged, strong language first. And vocabulary is the most important building block for that.
If it were a ready language, deaf individuals would have already accessed higher education using it. But that hasn’t happened. Family members would be able to interpret freely for the whole deaf community. Not happening either.
Why are there more hearing interpreters than deaf teachers? Why are there no deaf post graduates in geography and chemistry and law teaching in schools using ISL? Why are there only hearing people who are teaching in schools? Where is the ISL for a post graduate course in LAW? PhD from a university for deaf students is not enough, inclusive means PhD from a regular university becoming possible via SL, and the interpreter being able to help without himalayan efforts! For that, we need a sturdy SL. FIRST.
Families are lost for ways to communicate with their children. They can't find any place to learn to sign to their children. So they resort to the ORAL /AURAL methods. Children reach schools not knowing any language and then put together their own small vocabularies which is then added to by their seniors. This does not constitute a complete language.
Unlike spoken languages, it is not passed down over generations. Not all deaf children are born to deaf parents, so the mother tongue argument does not apply either. If it is a native tongue, natives must be allowed to teach it. They are not, because not all deaf individuals sign.
EKansh Trust has conducted workshops with teachers of Students in special schools for HI children. They are all struggling for a SL to use to teach concepts and lessons. Special Educator training programs do not include ISL as a major part of training. EKansh Trust has conducted several ToT programs for teachers as well...and the results are always the same. From 2008 till 2018, teachers are asking for an ISL that will help them teach. It is a MYTH that they are not willing to learn or use ISL.
Parents, Family members, Teachers, Employes, classmates, colleagues are all eager to learn ISL. But the onus CANNOT only be on hearing folks. It is true that SL is accepted better now thanks to more awareness and information via the internet. But it is also true that we still don't have an ISL class with a proper vocabulary beyond colours, days of the week, months of the year, etc...something that a child must know in the first 2 or 3 years of school. Hearing people are interpreters and expected to put in extra effort to ensure that their deaf audience understands what is communicated. Why must they struggle more for ISL than they would for any spoken language? The answer is evident, too many variations. If a person speaks for 2 minutes, the interpreter takes atleast 4 to explain. Ditto with a teacher in class.
Why is the onus on hearing people? It is not as if ISL was easily available to learn and everyone ignored it.
WHERE IS THIS ISL we speak of today? And how much of it is available to learn and share?
Just a glimpse of our work from 2007 onwards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IWZ2UIjJLE
INDIAN SIGN LANGUAGE stakes its claim to becoming an official language.
- There is no exhaustive vocabulary. The ISLRTC dictionary describes English words. Animal is – lion different different. Volcano is – mountain, lava, hot, flow, smoke. These are just explanations of English words. This does not constitute a DICTION-ary.
- The ISLRTC ‘dictionary’ is nothing but an interpreter’s guide to English, and a very weak one at that.
- The word NAME has multiple signs in the country today. So do words like WEEK, MONTH, DAY, etc. While this dictionary can formalize common signs for these words, whether they will be learnt by all Deaf individuals is a question that remains unanswered.
- There is no DEAF COMMUNITY. That is like saying BLIND COMMUNITY as they hear and use Braille to learn. It is a scattered mass of persons who are deaf and have made up their own sign languages for want of a proper dictionary and course. Some signs like eat, sleep, yawn, tired, happy, etc. will always be common. Even hearing persons will know those signs and use them when communicating with those who cannot understand their spoken language. That does not constitute a complete language.
- No person who is deaf is automatically ‘qualified’ to teach ISL. This is self-explanatory. They have no place to go and learn, so we do not have qualified deaf teachers either.
- 2600 words is the spoken vocabulary of a typical 6 year old hearing child and thousands more are understood. The ISL dictionary has 3000 ENGLISH words, not enough ISL words even for a child that age. Higher education in ISL is a distant dream.
- ISL grammar is standard. Yes. No debate. But vocabulary is the single- most important building block of a language after the alphabet.
- There are very few courses in BASIC ISL. What is the advanced course please and where is it taught?
THIS https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YLxdNCHGpg is an example for how the ENGLISH word DETERMINED is signed. Where is the ISL word for it? And if there isn’t, why is it in the ISL dictionary? How will the word DETERMINED, used in a conversation, be interpreted in ISL – like this?
I am determined must be signed as I am determined. Dumb Charades [Pardon the politically incorrect term] is a game played where movie names are mimed and guessed. This looks more like that. Will the meaning not be lost on someone who does not arrive at 'Determined' because he just does not know that word?
If you have Facebook, Please watch this.
- Individual SIGNS for as many commonly used words as possible: agreed upon by a mixed group of articulate, well-educated deaf individuals and linguists across the country.
- A proper ISL dictionary with a huge collection of ISL terms and words, defined and their usage explained. Sadly, what we have today from ISLRTC is NOT a dictionary. It is a weak guide for interpreters, with the help of a spoken language. We need a dictionary of and for ISL words. For that we need SIGN WORDS – defined in sign language.
- Grammar has to be taught and understood clearly.
- Deaf people have to formally learn ISL. Where are the ISL teachers?
- There have to be freely available dictionaries and courses for all so that it is used by many.
- Dialects are present in every language and also passed down over generations, but they are not officially recognized. A sturdy central common official sign language must come to exist.
My most sincere hope is that ISL will grow and soon qualify.
My opinion is personal. It may not withstand a debate from those who choose push the language, for whatever reason, in its current state without ever having tried to teach or learn it in the Indian Scenario. They contradict themselves in saying that it is a native language, yet nor permitting the 'native users' to teach it, by comparing it to spoken languages selectively when it is not passed on like a native spoken language - from generation to generation, by not having any popular course open to all if it is indeed a language which is on par with the 22 others.
The basis for this PIL is very weak. It will weaken the ISL movement too, irrespective of the good intentions behind it.
Essay contest: DISABLED FRIENDLY PUNE –VISION 2020 Organized by EKansh Trust. And the winners are:
DISABLED FRIENDLY INDIA- VISION 2020
FIRST PRIZE Rs: 5000/-
Medha Arora, Delhi Public School, Pune
“A disability is what you have, not who you are.”
Disability is a wide term that is associated with differently-abled people. People who are born with or acquire physical, sensory, functional or mental hinders. These hampers make them different from us in some way. But it is unfair to measure everyone by the same yardstick. Everybody has something that makes them exceptional, that makes them unlike others. If we unblock our minds, and look beyond the differences, we find that life isn’t black or white. People with disabilities are an integral part of our world and give it color.
Disabled people are regarded as liabilities, as burdens, as impediments among mankind. They’re undeservingly labeled, disgraced and ostracized in society just for being different. They are portrayed in stereotypical, imprecise and degrading ways which limit their aspirations. And that is where the greatest disability lies, in our minds, in the inability to see a person as more than what meets the eye. They aren’t afflictions, they are persons with disabilities, humans just like us. There are countless examples like Arunima Sinha, Stephen Hawking and many more whose disabilities have never held them back from fulfilling their dreams.
In the eyes and mind of the disabled, we’re the crippled ones. Handicapped in our mentality towards them. It is us, the youth of this country who need to change our outlook and give this minority the opportunities they have been declined for so long. In order to do so, we should place ourselves in their shoes, envisage their difficulties and introduce the required changes. It is imperative that information regarding rights of all categories of disabilities should be made readily available for them to read in print or Braille. For instance, we can make public places easily accessible by constructing toilets and ramps for the handicapped. A restaurant with a no-pets policy must make an exception for service dogs. In our country, we lack the availability of supermarkets that cater to their basic needs of buying necessary equipment like medical and disability products at reasonable prices from reputable suppliers. These mobility aids and other useful assistive devices for around the home are designed to enhance the lives of the disabled and those with mobility challenges. Visual, hearing and tactile aids should be placed in libraries, post offices, schools etc. to ensure self-reliance rather than dependency. lf someone has a hearing impairment and sign language is the primary means of communication, a lawyer, a doctor, or other professional must pay for and provide a sign language interpreter. A qualified interpreter must be able to listen, understand, and explain what has been said to both the professional and to the individual with a hearing impairment. Instead of creating only special schools, regular schools should be encouraged to have more facilities to accommodate children with special needs. Their integration at school level is most important for them to adjust as an adult in the real world. As a part of corporate social responsibility, companies should be encouraged to fund for better medical and paramedical facilities for the disabled. Initiating methods like these will give them a sense of belonging, and pave way for their colorful place in this black and white society.
Diversity is what makes us dissimilar, that makes us unlike two peas in a pod. That adds a little more spark to this otherwise bleak world. We need to learn how to embrace this diversity to make India a disabled-friendly country.
DISABLED FRIENDLY INDIA- VISION 2020
Second prize Rupees 3000/-
Sejal ShahSchool: Vibgyor High International School, NIBM, Pune
Our family friends’ son has Down syndrome. I was hesitant to meet him, not knowing what to expect and how he would behave. When I did meet him though, I saw an adorable, active and lovable little boy. In the right environment, he was thriving; the signs of the disorder were barely there.
Could we not provide this ‘right’ environment to all of India’s disabled people? Can we envision something more than a ‘Sugamya Bharat’ or Accessible India? My vision is “Inclusive India” where our society benefits from the capabilities and output of our differently abled citizens. It is to bring into the mainstream 21 million citizens while, at the same time, giving them the tools and support for an independent, self-confident and self-respecting life.
Imagine a country where a person’s disability is as accepted as a person’s receding hairline or a slightly portly appearance. For decades, we have supposed that the discrimination and lack of opportunity were to be expected as part of being disabled. This presumption has been ingrained into the way we function. We do not give the disabled the opportunity to try, with the confidence that they will fail. We need to counter this. When a child is born a parent does not need to be distraught with worry at the future of their kid. When a person’s vision starts to go, they do not need to stop work. When a person meets with an accident, they do not need to give up their dreams.
Achieving this requires many concrete steps. The government of India has already set the stage to insist on bringing about the change. They have made the necessary legislative changes. They have declared public facilities in Mumbai, Delhi and other cities around India to be disabled friendly by this July.
It is undeniable that this infrastructure is fundamentally important to aid our goal. However, when we add a ramp it cannot be an afterthought, it has to be planned. We have to put ourselves in place of the user. And accessibility is more than ramps and elevators. A disability refers to a physical, sensory or mental limitation that interferes with a person's ability to move, see, hear or learn. We need to recognize this. We must take steps to help all of them.
Furthermore, we need to include an ecosystem within which we cater to the challenges for the disabled individual and their caregivers. Where, as soon as the tragedy occurs, we work on integrating (or reintegrating) them into society. I see a three-step process:
1. Understanding: explaining the full effects and repercussions in an easy to understand
way to the concerned.
2. Equipping: providing the necessary tools and knowledge to deal with the disability.
3. Peer Support: engaging the disabled in an active community where others similarly
diagnosed can share experiences.
But this is not nearly enough. How do we transform our society from those that shun the disabled to one that accepts them? It is our responsibility to uplift and change the social mindset while dispelling stigmas. We need a determination to ensure support and self-reliance for our disabled citizens. We need a transformation to accept and include differently enabled people into our midst.
To find this transformation, and to empower the differently abled, we need to make the public care enough. This can be done by a variety of methods. One, we need to raise awareness. A social media campaign modeled after the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge would be both feasible and beneficial. Two, we need to remove the curiosity and mystery of disabilities. Three, we need to provide the disabled a forum where they can complain when discriminated against. We need to publicize these complaints, and name the offenders.
We all stand to gain by achieving success with Sugamya Bharat. By excluding the special needs, we could have already have lost out. History stands as a witness: Albert Einstein, Sarah Bernhardt, Stephen Hawking- all were disabled. Making India accepting and inclusive is in everyone’s interests. Maybe one day, our own disabled citizens may become the pride
DISABLED FRIENDLY INDIA- VISION 2020
Third prize Rupees 2000/-
Saipratyusha Kurucheti : Symbiosis, Viman Nagar, Pune
It was my first day of high school senior year. I knew that my last high school year would be nothing like the others. I was different from the others. And because I was different, I was teased and bullied often. I couldn’t speak. I was in no way normal like the other kids. I felt like pulling the covers over my head and staying in bed for the rest of my life. It seemed like the whole world was against me even though my parents and the teachers kept encouraging me.
My life was in ruins till he came that day. cc. He caught my eye and smiled. I smiled back. But I knew that that was temporary because many new kids used to come to my school and were very nice but once they figured out I couldn’t speak, it was like I had caught a disease. They practically ran away from me. The dark cloud settled back on my head. I was going to my next class when he suddenly was walked beside me. I ducked my head in shame and defeat because I knew what followed later, a lot of bullying and torture. He greeted me and I just nodded back and ran away as if the air caught on fire.
The next class I had was English and after I went and sat in one of the front benches in class, seconds later he came through. When he came through, his eyes held an intense emotion of sadness and pity. I couldn’t understand what he heard that made him so emotional. When he sat right next to me, I stiffened immediately. A paper with beautiful handwriting slid onto my desk. I looked at him questioningly. He jerked his chin towards the paper. So I looked at the paper and was severely shocked for a moment. I hung my head in embarrassment after I registered what he said. He wrote, “You shouldn’t stand back and let others bully you. It isn’t your fault so stand strong against them.”He lifted my chin up with his index finger and shook his head in the way you would say no. He started writing on the paper and encouraged me to write back. That was how I got my first friend.
We got to know more about each other every day. He was like my bodyguard and accompanied me everywhere I went. He didn’t let others talk rudely to me. The others slowly stopped teasing and bullying me and some of the others came and apologized amiably. My parents and all the teachers were particularly happy that I was getting along well with others. I was explicitly ecstatic myself. The more ordinary my life became the closer me and Ian became. We were the Inseparable. Graduation was getting closer and I wanted to express my gratitude towards Ian for helping me. So I wrote a speech that I would ask someone else to read.
I was a bundle of nerves when graduation day arrived. I asked a teacher to vocalize the speech I wrote. Once everyone was seated, I walked to the dais and stood near the poem next to the teacher assisting me. When I was writing it, I let my feelings flow into words. I didn’t hold anything back. Once the teacher started reciting what I wrote a very deafening silence took over. I knew right then that we had everyone’s attention. I shared my feelings.”Thanks to Ian, I am here today. If I hadn’t met him I doubt I’d be standing here today. I may not be able to speak like you but I have the same feelings like you do. I always wanted to have a normal life which I hadn’t achieved till Ian came. He entered my life like the sun radiating light through the darkness of my life. He was hope. This year that I spent with proved to be the best times I have ever had. I learnt many things that I am sure will be essential for me later on. If I hadn’t met Ian i would’ve never learnt, how to fight back, how to make friends, learn that I am different from the others but not in a bad way. I learnt not to degrade myself from the others. I may have a disability but that does mean I am very different from the human species. And I would also like to tell the others, I do have a disability, I cannot speak but that does not mean I am not one of you. I would say that I am proud that even with a disability I am able to pursue a normal life. I am in dept to Ian because without him I would’ve got lost in this sea. Thank you for accepting me the way I am.” As soon as the teacher finished reciting, the room burst into claps and cheers. Ian came and hugged me tight. I cried for the first time with tears of joy. My life changed. And now I finally am content with the way it is.
DISABLED FRIENDLY INDIA – VISION 2020
FIRST PRIZE IN MARATHI: Rupees 5000/-
युसुफ खान सी आर रंगनाथान निवासी कर्णबधीर विद्यालय , पुणे
विषय : २०२० च्या दृष्टीकोनातून अपंगांच्या साठी अनुकूल भारत.
हर शाम देखा जा सकता है
उस बच्चे के चेहरे पर एक उतावलापन,
बाहर जाकर खेलने का, दुसरे बच्चो के साथ,
जो रात होते हि लुप्त हो जाता ठ,
फिर मां उसके छोटे छोटे पांवोको सजाकर
पलंग पर सुला देती थी
वरील काही ओळीतून आपल्याला एका अपंग मुलाच्या मुलाच्या मनातील भाव-भावनांबद्दल आणि विचारांबद्दल जाणीव होते. अपंग म्हणून जन्माला येण्यामध्ये, त्या मुलाची काय चूक असते? कदाचित एखादा अवयव रुपी दागिना निसर्गानी त्यांना कमी दिला असेल. इतरांपेक्षा तो काही गोष्टीत तो कमी गतिमान असू शकतो. २००१ च्या जनगणनेनुसार २०१९ कोटी व्यक्ती अपंग आहेत. त्यातील ७५% व्यक्ती या ग्रामीण भागात राहतात. पण अपंग आहेत म्हणून या व्यक्ती कोणत्याही क्षेत्रात मागे राहिल्या नाहीत. यातील ४९% व्यक्ती या साक्षर असून, ३४% लोकांना रोजगार उपलब्ध आहे. हि आकडेवारी आजच्या तारखेस वाढलेली देखील असू शकते. आपला समाज आणि आपले सरकार यांच्या मदतीने आता या अपंग व्यक्ती ताठ मानेने जगताना आपल्याला दिसून येतात. अपंगत्वामुळे खचून न जाता, आपल्या बुद्धीचा आणि क्षमतेचा योग्य आणि पूर्ण उपयोग करताना आपल्याला दिसतात. सरकारी कर्मचारी म्हणून देखील कामे करताना आपल्याला ह्या अपंग व्यक्ती आढळून येतात. अपंग व्यक्ती देखील आता मानसिक दृष्ट्या सक्षम होवू लागले आहेत. आता त्यांना प्रोत्साहन देणे, वेगवेगळी उदाहरणे देणे, दाखले देवून प्रेरित करणे हे समाजव्यवस्थेचा जबाबदार नागरिक म्हणून आपले काम आहे. असे केल्यानी अपंगत्व हा शाप आहे आसे कोणाला वाटणार नाही.
शासनाकडून देखील अपंगांना प्रोत्साहन म्हणून ,किंवा समाजात सगळ्यांच्या बरोबरीने चालण्यासाठी बराचश्या योजना राबवल्या जातात . त्यात अपंगत्वाचा दाखल देणे , सायकल ,गाडी इत्यादी वस्तूंचे वाटप . तसेच अपंगाच्या इतर योजना यांचा त्यांना आधार आहे . आपल्या भारतामध्य अपंग लोकांना मदत करण्यासाठी अनेक संस्था देखील कार्यरत अहित .
डॉ हॉकिन्स , लुई ब्रेल , हेलेन केलर या सारखी अशी अनेक उदाहरणे या अपंग व्यक्तींमध्ये प्रेरणादाई आहेत .त्यनचे बुद्धी आणि जगाकडे पाहण्याचा वेगळा आणि चिकित्सक दृष्टीकोण याच्या जोरावर त्यानी मोठा लौकिक मिळवला आहे .
आपल्या संविधानामध्ये सर्व नागरिकांना समानता आणि स्वतंत्रता देण्यात आली आहे . राष्ट्रीय , शैक्षणीक धोरणात सुद्धा अपंग व्यक्तींबद्दल धोरणे ठरवण्यात आले आहेत जर आपला समाज ,सरकार, आपला देश आपल्याला एवढं प्रोत्साहन देत असॆल तर अपंग व्यक्तींनी देखील आता मागे राहून नाही चालणार .
" काल्पर्येंत तुम्ही म्हणायचात नशीब
आम्ही पण म्हणायचो नशीब
पण आता आमचा आमच्यावर विश्वास आहे
तुम्ही खुशाल पूजा त्या कज्व्याल…… कारण
तो सुर्यच आता आमचा श्वास आहे. "
आज अपंग मुलं - मूली I T I , computer ,MSCIT या सारखे कोर्स उत्तेर्ण होत आहेत २१ व्या शतकाच्या सुखातीला तांत्रिक प्रगती , संगणक आणी मोबाईल तसॆच इंटर्नेट याच्या वापरामुळे समाजात बदल घडून येत आहेत . पूर्वीच्या काळी अपंगांना शिक्षण , व्यावसाय इत्यादिन पासून वंचीत रहावे लागत असॆ ज़्यना बोलता येत नाही ,ऐकू येत नाही , दिसत नाही, एखादा अवयव निकामी आहे, बुद्धी कमी आहे अशा अशा सर्वानाच सतत कमी लेखले जाई , त्यांचा सतत अपमान होत असॆ . अपंग म्हणून एखाद्याने जन्माला येणे हा जणू पूर्व जन्मीचा शाप आहे असे मानले जाई . परंतू आता त्या मानाने सर्वच क्षेत्रात मोठ्या जन-जग्रूती होताना दिसते . असे असताना शासनाने सर्वांनाच शिक्षणाच्या समान संधी देउन शिक्षणाची दारे उघडी करून दयावीत . अपंग मुले देखील ईतर सर्व सामान्य मुलांप्रमाणे स्वतःच्या पायावर उभी राहू शकतात आणि आपले जीवन जगू शकतील .
अर्थात या सगळ्यासाठी पालकांची भूमिका देखील खूपच महत्वाची आहे. या मुलांना सतत प्रोत्साहन देणे, त्यांच्या सोयीची भाषा शिकणे, त्यांना समजून घेणे, कधीही हर न मानता सतत त्यांचे मत, आवड, छंद जाणून घेवून त्यांना पुठे जाण्यासाठी प्रवृत्त करणे गरजेचे आहे. अपंगांसाठीच्या सोयी-सुविधांचा योग्य वापर करणे गरजेचे आहे. माझ खर्च हे स्वप्न आहे कि हि सर्व अपंग मुले आपल्या स्वत:च्या कर्तृत्वावर, हुशारीवर २०२० पर्यंत उच्च शिक्षण घेवून, स्वत:च्या नोकरी व्यवसायांत स्थिर होतील. गाड्या चालवतील, तंत्रद्यानाचा जास्तीत जास्त उपयोग करून यशस्वी वाटचाल करतील.