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#VolunteerSays SignLanguage learning experience

At VFC, nothing brings us more happiness than see our volunteers benefit from our initiatives and show enthusiasm to take it forward. Thank you Apoorva for sharing your experience.

SIGN LANGUAGE IS FOR EVERYONE: It was a my long overdue aspiration to learn sign language. My late uncle was deaf and I grew up watching my mother and grandma speak to him through signs. Since about a year ago, the importance of knowing and using sign language has been looming upon me. It may be because my perspective is evolving and I am beginning to understand why inclusion and diversity could be the fundamental of world peace. It could also be because I would like to learn something new during difficult times of the Covid-19 lockdown. But either way, I knew it was time to learn this language. I knew it was time to learn something that’s symbolically profound, spiritually tying, and a beautiful gesture of inclusion.

As the realizations and emotions flooded, along came VFC, a group of most generous, talented, and insightful youngsters constantly creating opportunities to make a difference. VFC has left no stone unturned, by making sure almost every section of the society receives the attention it needs; be it children, senior citizens, the differently-abled, animals, or plants. They even support causes related to safety, education, and many more.

Through a flawlessly organized and communicated campaign, VFC conducted an online sign language workshop (via Zoom conferencing) for over 150 volunteers in 2 batches on the 18th and 25th of April 2020. A subject matter expert hosted the sessions. The trainer, Mr. R. Nataraja, has over 6 years of experience in training People with Disabilities, especially the deaf community. He is involved in regular interpretations during interviews, workshops, and conferences. He also does counselling for people with speech and hearing impairment. With several certifications and vast experience in the subject, Mr. Nataraja aims to make learning and training inclusive for people with speech and hearing impairment.

We as volunteers were privileged to receive the training from someone as knowledgeable and kind as Mr. Nataraja. He walked us through the basics of sign language, its principles and ethics. After teaching the alphabet of both American Sign Language (ASL) and Indian Sign Language (ISL), he dove deeper into ISL to teach us the usage of simple words and phrases that will help us communicate with a deaf person comfortably. We learnt to sign members of the family, simple day-to-day usage words such as “work”, “government”, “sorry”, “thank you”, and even “coronavirus”! Simple phrases such as “Good morning, my name is … Nice to meet you”, were also taught.

Mr. Nataraja also patiently answered our doubts and reiterated the basics and ethics of sign language to help us understand its correct usage.

At the end of the session, not only were we able to spell out and communicate basic words and phrases but also felt extremely satisfied with the rewarding experience of the workshop and of having learnt something new.

My heartfelt gratitude to the organizing team for their tireless efforts towards making this happen, and to Mr. Nataraja for a truly insightful session! Looking forward to more such workshops from VFC.

Written by Apoorva Parimal


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