Noida Deaf Society (NDS), is a Non-Profit Organization, started in 2005 out of a two-bedroom flat in Sector 29, today has transformed into a three-storey building located in Sector 117. It has centres in Delhi, Gurgaon and Jaipur. NDS, their sole aim is to give vocational training and skill development courses to deaf and mute students so that they become capable of joining the main stream jobs. Over the past three years, over 30 deaf and mute students of the NDS, have been employed at various retail, food and beverage outlets in DLF Mall of India and Great India Place in Noida, which situation was not even thought of five years ago.

The founder, General Secretary of NDS, Ruma Roka, said, “the job sector in Noida has become more inclusive towards differently-abled people over the past few years. At the same time there has also been a big shift in the mentality of those hiring for corporates and retail offices. People have become more inclusive. Companies now want to explore and recruit our students”. With its centre based in Noida, the society has helped over 2000 deaf and mute students’ get employment across hospitality, IT, manufacturing and retail not just in Noida but also in others parts of the country as well. Every year more than 500 students get enrolled at all centres inclusive.
According to the students at NDS, they get a new lease of life after being a part of the Organization, in contrast to their earlier life where they were not even understood by their families. One student narrated his experience, that, his school teacher at Ghaziabad did not explain anything to them in sign language as she was not differently-abled. All his life he felt frustrated because he was not able to express himself to his friends and family. After he finished his school, he got to know about NDS, through Facebook, where he was taught ISL (Indian Sign Language), English and computers. Currently he is learning more about hospitality industry.
What happens when they are not trained? They got only odd jobs offered to them and they were susceptible to exploitation. A student who was not trained was employed in an Organization, for three years, where his job was to sort out mails only. After getting trained at NDS, now he is employed at the Shangri-La-hotel in Delhi, in the housekeeping department. His father is an auto rickshaw driver he left school after tenth to support him. He struggled by sorting out mails and doing odd jobs. After three years wait since his wages hadn’t increased, he got to know about NDS and the rest is history.

Another fascinating fact about NDS is, the trainers who teach these students are themselves deaf and mute, which make it easier for the students to establish a connect and most of them are alumni from NDS itself. Through social media and mobiles, more, deaf and mute community people have come to know about NDS. Since its inception from 2005, people had got to know about them through word of mouth only. But now for the past 5 years’ social media has helped them to reach more and more students.

The biggest positive thing is, as reiterated by the teacher from the NDS, “there is a lot of insecurity and low confidence among children when they come here. If they see a person who is not differently abled even smiling at them, they would think, they are making fun of them. Since we are ourselves deaf and mute, we are able to befriend the students and relate to them. Training and teaching, as a result becomes easier”.

From the employers of these students from NDS, have opined that, the candidates they had hired are more efficient than other employees as their focus is completely on work. Once when they too picked up the sign language communication became feasible. Many companies have been coming back to NDS, to hire more candidates as they are disciplined, devoted and enthusiastic towards their work.

Let’s not underestimate the capability of the differently abled people, for those, the so called normal people, who try to even make fun of them are the, CHILDREN OF LESSER GODS’.

-Vijayashree Ramesh
The Writer is an advocate based at Chennai.