The Beginning Ruma Roka was a homemaker restless to find a mission and meaning to life and a dream to start a school. One day she came across a woman interpreting the News on National TV in Sign Language. She was deeply intrigued by the use of hands for communication and decided to learn Sign Language. In 2004, she completed her course and this knowledge of Sign language got her in touch with the Deaf community and she started researching about the Deaf, their issues and the needs. The more time she spent with the Deaf, the more she realized the need to do something. There was no looking back from this point. She realized that there were complex issues facing the Deaf in the country such as lack of education facilities, dearth of resources customized for the Deaf and hardly any avenues for holistic development. And most importantly there was no access to quality training leading to sustainable livelihood.
To address some of these issues she started an organization called Noida Deaf Society (NDS) in 2005. She started from a small two bed room flat belonging to her husband. The journey started with just five students and Ruma as the only trainer. Through word of mouth the organization started growing and is today reaching out to over 300 students every year. Our goal is to enable the complete integration of the Deaf into the mainstream through education and specialized vocational programs leading to meaningful employment.
About the Deaf There are huge challenges facing the Deaf community. There are approximately 12 million Deaf in India with 80% of them having no access to formal education. (source:http://deafness.about.com/od/internationaldeaf/a/indiadeaf.htm). Roughly theere are only about 500 Government Aided Deaf schools in the country which are primarily based on the oralist approach and do not encourage the use of sign language. There is a lack of right pedagogy and teaching resources which are especially customized to the needs of the Deaf in India. Even within their own families lack of communication has kept them away from development of core soft skills.
Over and above this, in India there are huge misconceptions about Sign Language and its usage. Deafness is treated as a medical condition which needs to be remedied. There is a lot of stress on making the deaf child speak. Families have no support system where they can be given options on ways to bring up their child.
This has led to low literacy rate and as a result the deaf have not been able to develop academically, cognitively and socially. The Deaf lag behind their hearing counterparts in all spheres of human development including employability quotient.