Making themselves heard: deaf people in India during the global COVID-19 pandemic

GULYANI, Ritika
Publication Date 
2021
11 pp

The onset of the sudden and global pandemic, COVID-19, has forced all of us to change our ways of living and interacting with the outside world. Additionally, a lot of restrictions on movement mandated by governments have also been issued in the past few months. In the context of India, a nationwide lockdown was in place from midmarch till the end of May. These lock-downs have had serious consequences for various segments of the population across the country, especially, those on the margins, who are vulnerable and/or in a minority. One such segment has been the disabled population. This paper, with the help of narratives, addresses the challenges faced by the deaf population during the COVID crisis and the ways in which they have negotiated these. There has been a big void in the dissemination of information to the deaf, owing to the fact that the majority of information from official sources has not been translated into sign language. More so, in times when information is the key to maintaining proper health care, this is a big lacuna. Additionally, the paper will also talk about the role of technology as well as of deaf groups in the lives of deaf people, and how it has proved to be very helpful to not just spread proper awareness about the pandemic, but also in trying to build up a movement in trying to recognise Indian Sign Language as the 23rd Official Language of India. 

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