A Brief Story about my Life
I was born as a Deaf Child. I studied in a Deaf Hindi Medium School in Pune. I could communicate very well with my family in local sign language. I was a bit naughty when I was a child. I loved playing with other children. I was not aware of the world. . I didn’t focus much on studying and sometimes, I even failed in my exams. My parents were very upset with my poor performance in school. Gradually, I lost my vision at the age of 9, due to Usher Syndrome. I felt very frustrated. I used get very angry. My parents were not aware about my new condition - deafblindness. There was no school for Deafblind children in Pune. My parents were sad and were also confused. They decided that I must study at home.
Luckily, my maternal Grandfather (Col. Khan), who was in the Indian Army , was worried about my education. He took me and my younger brother, Akhtar, who was also Deaf with Low Vision to a Deaf and Deafblind school in Mumbai. He introduced us to Ms. Beroz Vacha. She was pleased to meet us and gave us admission in her school. She taught us all the subjects, Basic English, Maths, History. We also learnt to Lipread. I didn’t to learn to speak because I could not understand the meaning of sounds. However, I learnt to write on paper and to Print on Palm to communicate with those without disability. I also learnt to practice typing on English Typewriter. I gained confidence to go out alone with the help of white-red cane. My teachers and parents were worried and did not allow me to go outside alone but I was determined. I wanted to explore the world. Slowly, they learnt to trust me.
I now travel independently but it is not easy, as there is poor environment accessibly. Communication is also limited. People are not aware about how to communicate with persons with Deafblindness.
After finishing my education, I decided that I wanted to get a good job and started looking for good training organisation. I joined Blind Association in Mumbai for learning different skills, like repairing, tailoring, Book binding, Carpentry, etc. Even, after finishing my training with a good certificate, I could not get a job. I went to different places for more training, but again there was still no job for me. I felt frustrated and cheated. I wanted to live a life like a regular person in the world.
In 1999, I went to Ahmadabad for a month to attend a workshop for persons with disabilities. Suddenly, I saw a Blind person operating computer using screen reading software. After returning back to Mumbai, I requested Ms. Beroz Vacha to start a training computer center for Deafblind adults. She agreed and it was started. That helped me in building my career. I now teach Deafblind children mobility and communication skills. I also teach them Computers. I want all persons with deaf blindness in India to have Braille Display Device. That’s one of the issues that I am strongly advocating for. I teach American Sign Language to Interpreters. I also support my Deafblind friends to fight for the rights.
In 2003, I worked with Mr. Sanjay Leela Bhansali as an Assistant to make a movie Black, which was about a person with Deafblindness. I joined Sense International India as Advocacy Officer in 2006. I decided to set up my own NGO in 2015. It is called Society For empowerment Of The Deafblind (SEDB) ) to fullfill my dream, which is to ensure that all Deaf and Deafblind friends have equal opportunities in the society. They should become brave and should never be worried that people would harass them. They should earn their living and lead a fulfilling life.