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January 18, 2003

SMS gives hearing impaired a lifeline

From: Hindustan Times, India - 18 Jan 2003

Rema Nagarajan
New Delhi, January 18

Suchint Sahdev's cell phone bill is over Rs 2,000 per month. That isn't all that unusual, especially if you consider the fact that Sahdev has a hearing impairment. SMS is a lifeline for her.

“Life is so much easier now. Any news can be communicated immediately,” Sahdev says. Every deaf person ought to have a mobile, she adds.

There is, it appears, a massive SMS traffic happening in the deaf community. Most of them send nearly 50 messages a day, some much more than that.

Even the less well-to-do spend a significant part of their salaries on SMS. “These people are not earning huge salaries. Yet they spend quite a bit on SMS-ing because for them it is a lifeline. A mobile phone has become the most coveted possession, the favourite birthday gift for a deaf person,” says Arun Rao, executive director of Deaf Way, an NGO working for the empowerment of the deaf.

Before the SMS revolution even the simplest thing like rescheduling a meeting was a Herculean task for anyone — and it was worse for someone who could not hear. “Earlier, if I was late for an appointment it caused so much worry. I would have to find a hearing person, communicate that I wanted to make a call, then have that person pass on my message to another hearing person who in turn would have to convey the message to my deaf friend waiting for me. It was a tedious process and at the end of it you were not even sure if the correct message has been conveyed. Now all I need to do is send an SMS,” says A.S. Narayanan, who works in the Ministry of Industries.

SMS, he says, has tremendously boosted his sense of independence.

For Narayanan, who runs a deaf club that coordinates activities with similar clubs across the country, SMS spells instant communication.

© Hindustan Times Ltd. 2002.