The biggest challenge that the deaf community faces in India today is that of communication. Statistics show that the country has 18 million deaf people but only 250 interpreters. This means that there is only 1 interpreter for 72,000 people. A new initiative is trying to fix all of this. Finger Chats, which was started simultaneously in Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru, offers free workshops every week. It teaches people to communicate in sign language. The first event was hosted by Enable India. Enable India offers full-time courses in sign language in classrooms.
Rajesh Menon, Volunteer Community Leader for FingerChats Delhi, said, “The first event was organised by Enable India, an organisation working towards creating an inclusive society.” Volunteers who have experience with the challenges that the deaf face in everyday life have come together to keep the classes going.
According to a report in India Times, a small group of volunteers manages the weekly events in the hope that even if a few people are able to complete the three-month long freestyle course, there will be other voices to support the hearing impaired.
Most deaf children never get a shot to realising their dreams. There are only 397 schools in India, 95 of which are in Maharashtra, for children with hearing impairment. Even in these schools, there is a continued struggle to find the right teachers to train them to lead an inclusive life. Another challenge is the struggle for the deaf to communicate in Indian Sign Language as opposed to American Sign Language – like Hindi versus English. The deaf have to understand both sign languages and so do the communicators.