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July 31, 2003

Deaf students recount US experiences

From: Mid-Day Mumbai, India - Jul 31, 2003

By: Nitasha Natu

Pradip Sinha (24) and Zamir Dahale (27) are in their element. Having returned from a tour to the United States a week ago, they can't stop recounting their adventure. Only in this case, they converse in sign language.

Students of the Helen Keller Institute at Byculla, Sinha and Dahale are the youngest ever deaf and blind students from India to attend a conference in the US.

The American Association for the deaf-blind organised the conference at San Diego. The tour, sponsored by the Rangoonwala Foundation, involved interacting with their counterparts from the US and increasing awareness about the rights and abilities of deaf blind people.

The duo can converse with others by tracing out words on their palm. They have now been appointed as assistants at the Mini Braille Press in the institute on a stipend of Rs 2,500 per month.

"Besides doing well in computers, Zamir and I are trained masseurs and are experts in candle making and cane weaving. Our trip to United States has only cemented my confidence to make it big as a future leader," Sinha added. Dahale added, "In the US, we met several youngsters like us, it was absolutely heartwarming, speaking to them."

Beroz Vacha, director of the institute said, "The two are winners, be it their mobility or communication."

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