‘Indian Sign Language doesn’t bridge the language gap; people of the north can’t communicate with people of southern states’.
New Delhi: Every year, World Disability Day reminds us of how far we have been successful in implementing new policies for the ease of life for the differently-abled community and promoting the understanding of disability issues and supporting their rights, dignity, and well-being. Although the Indian government has come a long way to support such rights for them, there is still a long way to go. For instance, most hearing-impaired people have difficulty in communication, however, with the introduction of Indian Sign Language (ISL), the problem of communication doesn’t resolve. To get a better understanding, The Sunday Guardian spoke to Vikram Dutt, the Chairman of the All India Federation of The Deaf. He spoke about the shortcomings in communication with respect to hearing-impaired people. “The ISL doesn’t bridge the gap in the language, as a result, the people of the north are unable to communicate with the people of southern states and thus, the communication gap remains. There needs to be a unified sign language,” he said.
With an example, he clarified, “When someone from the south speaks in their mother tongue, it cannot be understood by the people in the northern state. Similarly, when someone in a different state uses Sign Language (SL) to interpret the meaning, they speak in their own mother tongue using SL and as a result, it gets difficult to understand. Henceforth, the communication gap remains.” Such gaps limit the employment opportunities of the people.
While talking about how the community has been supported in the field of sports, he said, “Team games such as basketball, hockey, are difficult, whereas, games, where the sportsman has to play individually, are much simpler such as swimming, badminton and so on.” Sportspersons such as Taranath Narayan Shenoy (Indian swimmer), Virender Singh (wrestler), Rajeev Bagga (Indian badminton player), and so on are some of the key examples that show disability doesn’t eliminate real talent and sportsmanship spirit within an individual. The government has kept on supporting the people in various ways, for instance, The third edition of the T20 World Cup cricket tournament for the blind, which will take place in December 2022, is being organised by the Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI), affiliated to World Blind Cricket Limited (WBC), and Samarthanam Trust for the differently-abled.
Similarly, with respect to the cochlear implant, an electronic device that improves hearing, he stated, “After implantation of such a device, a human brain needs the training to understand or decipher sounds. However, people fail to realize this.”
NGOs such as Friends organisation by Dinesh Gupta also bring forth the shortcomings at the various policy levels or at the government levels. Such as with respect to prenuptial law, there is no such consideration anywhere in India, except for Goa. The “Friends” has been working to make people aware of the need for implementing the prenuptial act as most people are still dependent on their parents or caregiver. In India, prenuptial agreements are considered invalid in contrast to nations like Canada or France. However, it might be regarded as being governed by the Indian Contract Act of 1872 (ICA). Presently, “Friends’ is also working to bring forth job opportunities in the country. However, a lot needs to be done to bring inclusiveness among people of the differently-abled community.