taking initiative

Deaf & mute teacher, students bridge gap with sign language

Deaf & mute teacher, students bridge gap with sign language

Image: iStock

Berhampur (Odisha), July 30

She is deaf and mute, her students are also in the same boat. But that did not stop their classes as they used sign language to cross the barrier of communication.

The 20-year old woman in Odisha's Ganjam district has been imparting teaching to some of the differently-abled students through sign language after their special schools got shut due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rinki Gouda, a deaf-and-mute third-year student of a college in Bhubaneswar, is staying at her home at Lanjia village as her college was shut due to the COVID-19 situation. 

In Lanjia, about 173 km south of Bhubaneswar in Kukudakhandi block, there are at least another four deaf-and-mute students who are in classes 7-9 and at their homes as their schools were shut since the first wave of the pandemic last year.

At this juncture, Gouda, who had known sign language during her school studies, came forward to teach them through the method at her home. Every day, the woman took two-hour classes for the four students of Class 6-9, apart from taking her own online classes for the past one year.

"We're very happy as my daughter teaches other students who are deaf and mute," said her father Niranjan Gouda, who is a labourer.

Besides providing other facilities, the parents of Rinki Gouda also offered lunch for all the students at their home frequently.

The Citizens Association for Rural Development, a Berhampur-based NGO, provided the teaching-learning materials (TLMs) to these students to continue their studies.

"Our community-based workers visit the village every week to inspect their studies and to support other TLMs," said Suresh Sahu, president of the organisation.

Earlier, the organisation had also supported her for pursuing her studies in school and college level, he added.

"We thanked Rinki and her parents for coming forward to support the persons-with-disability students of their village, whose studies suffered greatly due to the pandemic," Sahu said.

Parents of these students, mostly labourers and farmers, were very much worried about their children as they did not have access to the deaf-friendly education and became stressed. 

One of the students, Juli, was studying at Class 6 last year when she was feeling very mild and inactive due to the stress, according to her father.

"We were not financially sound enough to support her to have a smartphone to take online classes,” he said.

At that time of trouble, Rinki Gouda became the tutor for these students to help them to continue their studies, he added. PTI

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