The Deaf and "Dumb"
Educational disadvantages of the hearing and speech impaired in India, and how this affects their future livelihoods
278 million people in the world have moderate to profound hearing impairment, half of which are completely avoidable through early screening, prevention and management . 80% of the world’s hearing impaired live in developing nations such as India. In these countries, less than 1 in 40 people who need a hearing aid have one, and 90% of the people who own hearing aids do not have properly fitted ones . One of the World Health Organization’s goals for 2010 was to eliminate 50% of the burden associated with avoidable hearing loss .
The purpose of this research project is to gain an understanding of the quality of education of the deaf and mute population in India, and how it differs from the normal education system. It has been shown that there is an education stigma associated with the deaf in India that relates directly to future careers. A comparison of responses between deaf and hearing adults in India regarding appropriate career choices for deaf people were dismayingly different. On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being least suitable and 5 being most suitable, deaf adults rated the mining profession 1.74 in terms of suitability for a career option for a deaf individual. Adults with hearing rated the profession 3.09 for deaf individuals, two standard deviations different than the deaf respondents. In the same study, the most frequent response for a suitable deaf profession was a tailor, while a government worker, researcher at NASA and technical teacher for the deaf all garnered only one vote for suitability . Few, if any, severely deaf individuals are enrolled in higher education programs in India .
There has been action to mitigate the loss of livelihood associated with the hearing impaired Indian population. One such venture, VirtualO, was started as a collaboration between the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and a deaf Indian badminton player. VirtualO is a nonprofit organization that provides resources and channels for deaf and mute individuals in India to become professional artists and sell their work online . The Deaf Way Foundation was started in 1997 as a nonprofit organization providing education and vocational services for deaf youth in India. The Deaf Way is the first magazine regarding deaf issues in India, which is distributed free of charge to all deaf institutions in the nation .
This summer, individual research will be carried out in Ahmedabad, India in association with the Pennsylvania State University and the Self Employed Women’s Association. Specific goals by the end of the three week period of study are:
· Interview at least three different instructors for deaf and mute children
· Identify and analyze problem associated with the deaf and mute female population, and how this
ties in with gender roles in the community
· Identify and analyze social stigmas associated with deaf and mute individuals in the educational
· Identify and analyze social stigmas associated with deaf and mute individuals in the professional
· Observe at least one educational setting for deaf and mute children
· Identify possible entrepreneurial and/or educational opportunities for individuals, especially
women, within the deaf and mute communit