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Plight of Deaf community - handicapped within the handicapped

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Plight of Deaf community
- S.R.Rajagopal

On the eve of World Disability Day falling on 3rd December, it is appropriate to
intensely portray the plight of deaf community. Hearing loss has become the number one disability in the world according to a study compiled by the World Hearing Institute. Yet, deaf people are indulged to be handicapped within the physically handicapped community. It is pity to note that deaf is not at all looked upon as disabled. General perception about physically handicapped is – only people without hand, leg or any other physical deformity that could be visually viewed is assumed to be physically handicapped. Unless a child or adult shows signs of near-total deafness, hearing problems go unnoticed.


Educationists, parents and other primary resource persons such as social workers in non-governmental organizations often fail to identify children suffering form mild and moderate hearing loss. In most schools, annual medical camps are conducted, but not all the children are screened. The teacher picks a few students that he or she thinks could have problem and they undergo the check up. If a hearing impairment problem is identified and treated in its early stage, the child’s speech and language skills will be on par with normal children. Therefore, hearing screening at birth and routine tests throughout childhood is important.

Diagnostic centres are expected to undertake the basic tests – ENT evaluation,
oto-acoustic emission, auditory brain stem response, impedance audiometry and detailed speech and language evaluation, providing hearing aids. While it may not be feasible to have every child undergo audiometric tests, the next best thing is for the teacher who picks the children to be screened to be aware of the symptoms to look out for in a child who could be suffering from mild or moderate hearing loss. When people are interested to carry out variety of tests to find out whether new born babies do have any disease, the same people do not attach much importance to carry out hearing test to find out as to whether the new born babies are alright in hearing. This means that deafness is not naturally recognized by one and all at various levels.

Literally speaking, deaf is not at all given serious note. Exorbitant fees are collected in few schools available for deaf. There is no control over it by the government. Teachers who taught there are not trained in teaching hearing impaired.
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