Such hurdles in employment faced by the deafblind community was discussed at a webinar organised by the Society for the Empowerment of the Deafblind and the Chetana Trust on Sunday. At the ‘Come Together, Connect and Support!’ seminar, deafblind persons from across the country spoke about their lived experiences in modern society.
“There is a perception that deafblind people cannot work. Companies need to give us a chance to show what we are capable of. We need better and more accessible education and literary skills, as language acquisition is poor in the community,” said Sunil Abbas, a Chennai-based deafblind person.
Owing to the challenges with formal employment, many have opted to work in informal avenues, particularly artisanal and handicraft-related fields, in an effort to remain self-reliant, said Zamir Sinha, founder of the Society for the Employment of the Deafblind (SEDB).
“There are a lot of issues faced by deafblind people in finding employment. There are also many barriers in India surrounding employment and accessibility. Therefore, many have opted for self-employment through tactile arts,” he said.
At the same time, organisations like SEDB and other NGOs are hosting skill training programmes, specifically for computer literacy, in an effort to prepare the community members to enter the formal workforce. Some also work with companies that take initiative to break prejudices and promote employment.
However, the main concern remain societal prejudice, said Shipra Ghosh, mother of a deafblind person and a coordinator of a learning centre for children with special needs based in Delhi. “The main issue is awareness. There is a hurtful misconception that deafblind people are mad. This is detrimental towards the progress of the community. People and companies need to learn otherwise, and realise that they can do work like anyone else,” she said.