Deafness is the second most common birth defect in India. According to Deaf Child Worldwide, there are 3 million deaf children in the country, but hardly any specialized institutions cater for their needs. And despite the political promises to give every Indian child the right to education, actually only one in 10 deaf children in the country go to school at all.
The luckiest of them will end up at the I Hear Foundation is an early intervention program that starts working with hearing impaired kids and their parents to help diagnose, treat, and then help the children assimilate into a hearing world.
They have 25 students – children ranging from a few months old to 5 years old and different backgrounds come to the centre to learn what most of us take for granted - how sound is associated with learning on every level. The teachers are specialized and dedicated, but its the parents of the kids who are the real engines behind each child’s progress.
Rishi brought his daughter to I Hear early on. Now, she’s in the fourth grade of a normal school and coping as well as any of her non deaf classmates. She has an implant at assists her to hear a bit but it’s the knowlege and techniques she’s learnt at the foundation that have taught her to speak normally and have a ‘normal’ life.
“I Hear is like a temple for us” he says - “without their help, who knows what her future would be.”