With over a deaf community of over 18 million, it is surprising that much of India is ignorant about the Indian Sign Language. In order to ensure that the deaf community is not ostracized, it is necessary that ISL be accepted the same way any traditional oral language, such as English or Hindi, are accepted and people are made aware of it. As a small effort on our part, Atulyakala recently conducted an Indian Sign Language workshop at Zostel, Jaipur.
Zostel was the ideal location for such an event as youth from across the world chose Zostel as their preferred accommodation. The Sign Language workshop conducted was attended by youth from all over the world; Switzerland, Britain, United States, China, and India. Despite the fact that all of them spoke different languages, none of them had any problem in picking up the Indian Sign Language. ISL acted as a single medium of communication to bind people across the border of languages.
The entire workshop was conducted by a single deaf individual. Despite not being able to speak, he was able to communicate with people speaking languages ranging from Swiss to Chinese. Such interactive spaces where the deaf and hearing communities come together also cause a shift of perspective about the abilities of a deaf person. The response from the participants was heartwarming.
Travelers made for a befitting audience as they are open to experiencing new cultures, meeting new people and learning new things. Louella, a participant from Ahmedabad, remarked that “It is amazing to know that there is a whole world out there which I wasn’t aware of previously. But now I can communicate with a deaf person whenever I come across one.”
The most fulfilling aspect of the event was the exchange that happened between the deaf teacher and the participants once they learned the basics of sign language. If a few hours of sign language training could lead to this, then imagine what a series of such experiences would do.