This is the story of Ashok
He was born in Pandua, West Bengal with hearing impairment. In his early years, his mother would wonder why he hasn't started speaking. She assumed that he would learn slower than other children. As he grew older she suspected that he could be deaf, but refused to accept it. Eventually she had him tested and found out he was deaf.
But he was already four years old. He had missed out on very essential sensory stimulation to develop language, and his mother could still not communicate with him in any meaningful way.
On the suggestion of a friend, she consulted specialists at VAANI.
Because of the complete lack of support or access to information, Ashok's mother learned more in 30 minutes at VAANI than she had in the last 4 years. While we worked with Ashok to teach him to communicate, we had to put an equal amount of effort to train his mother to understand him.
Deafness is invisible. You cannot tell if this boy or that girl is deaf. And the younger they are, the harder it is to tell; which is why the average age of detection in India is 3 years. Until they are three, most parents assume that their child is just a late bloomer and will begin to speak eventually. Due to this lack of sensory input during the child’s formative years, his/her educational and emotional development is significantly impaired.
'My child does not know me; he doesn't know I'm his mother. He can't even call me "Ma". How do I make him understand that I am different from other people, that I am his mother?' – Ashok's mother before coming to Vaani.
Not being able to hear changes a child’s perspective on life – something we can only just imagine but never fully understand. Being deaf makes a child so isolated and disconnected that a concept as crucial and innate as 'mother' is something a deaf child has no means of understanding. VAANI aims to bridge this communication gap between a child and the parent.
There are plenty of Ashoks in India today and the example in the video above is one among many hurdles that they face. VAANI was founded to teach deaf children to communicate; to change existing attitudes about deafness. To look at deaf children as children first, with the same emotional, social, communication, and education needs as their hearing peers.
Our method of teaching involves the Combined Method of Communication and focuses on communication between the parent and the child. The Combined Method of Communication involves incorporating various means of communication including sign language, gestures, body language, written and visual aids, listening, lip reading, and speech to educate a child with hearing loss. Each family receives comprehensive, unbiased information, and training thus enabling them to make informed decisions for their children based on their own culture, values, and views.
For the past 10 years we have been working across the country to bring communication and language to the lives of deaf children and their families. Based on our experience over these years we have developed a model to effectively deliver our technical expertise.
The Sadhan Resource Centre
Here’s how it works
- We conduct a feasibility study to choose the right area.
- We find space. It could be an apartment, part of a school, or even a cow shed!
- We hire and send out community mobilizers who find and identify deaf children and families through word of mouth, and SSA and Anganvadi workers.
- We equip the space with all our teaching material.
- We deploy our most important asset, the technically qualified teacher.
- And then we teach.
VAANI was established as a 'corporate' NGO, where we have fool-proof systems for finance, HR, accountability and impact assessment, just like any well-run business. We set up a well-stocked office with basic things like Internet access for all, competitive salary grades and a comfortable work environment. We believe that if we want to advocate for the rights of deaf children and do the job properly, we must then ensure that the people who work in VAANI are well taken care of.
Where does your contribution go?
VAANI delivers its services to deaf children and their families absolutely free of cost.
For every Rs. 100 that is spent, Rs. 80 goes towards service delivery, Rs. 17 goes towards administrative costs, and Rs. 3 goes towards Infrastructure.
- Service Delivery – All expenses towards VAANI’s services which directly reach the beneficiaries – children, parents, teachers, community.
- Administration – All expenses towards the smooth functioning of the organisation
- Infrastructure – All expenses that enable VAANI to deliver its services.
Over the last ten years we have worked in Assam, Jharkhand, Mizoram, Meghalaya and West Bengal. Our dream is to reach out to every deaf child in India by initiating Sadhan Centres in all the other states, starting with Karnataka.
We hope to raise the necessary funds required to make this happen and with your help and support, we can. To ensure that we make an impact on these children and their families, we need dedicated people like you to reach our ₹14,00,000 goal by 13th July.
The funds will be utilized to set up a Sadhan Resource Centre in Bangalore.
Impact so far
- Our Sadhan Centres have helped many families of the deaf lead better lives.
- Parents are empowered and educated about all means of communication their child can use, after which they make informed decisions on what is best for their child. Most of these parents have a conversation with their child for the first time.
- Some parents have set up their own Parents Support Groups to share individual stories of their struggles and learning to help each other collectively overcome hurdles. Some have set up their own partner organisations with us to deliver our technical expertise to parents in need.
- Children that get support in our Sadhan Resource Centres are being mainstreamed into regular schools.
- In 10 years, we have touched the lives of 27,000 people with our work - 6400 children, 11300 parents, 6544 professionals, 3000 general public. Across 8 states.
- First ever unique public-private-NGO partnership in Assam - MoU signed with the Govt of Assam to take our services to 26 blocks in 3 districts of Assam. The Govt provides the space, some manpower and the access to the communities; VAANI provides the technical expertise for teaching deaf kids; project funded by Jamshetji Tata Trust
Awards & Recognitions
- In 2012 VAANI won the eNGO award for Advocacy, presented by Resource Alliance, UK.
- VAANI was adjudged one of the Top-Rated Nonprofits for 2012 by GreatNonprofits, the leading provider of user reviews about non-profit organizations.
- Mrs Brinda Crishna (Founder Director of Vaani) was shortlisted for the Ogunte Women's Social Leadership Awards. She was one of 3 finalists in the segment Category Leader in Charitable Organisations and Campaigns 2013.
Do your bit to give a voice to the voiceless; contribute and speak up for those who cannot. Every contribution you make, will be like music to little ears.