Mrs. Deepti, Principal of The Clarke School for The Deaf, feels strongly about this. This is why the school - established in 1970 - prefers individual hearing gear for all students, instead of soundproof rooms, FM systems and other such special infrastructure. But hearing gear, like cochlear implants and hearing aids, are not always a solution.
“It will only work in certain cases. If such cases are identified in time, and the child gets an implant before the age of three, they can get about 80% of their hearing back. If they get undergo the operation before 5, they get 50% of their hearing back. Beyond a certain age, the procedure won’t give proper results,” says Mrs. Helimal, who has been with the school for the last 26 years.
“Many develop a complex that stays with them all their lives,” explains Headmaster Albert of CSI. “Till the age of five, an impaired child has very little problem connecting with a regular child. Children are simple. But after that age, communication problems come up, and inhibitions start setting in.”
“A lot of these children are conscious in public. Ordinary actions of people affect them. Little gestures of other people affect them, and make them think they are being mocked. Sometimes they get agitated and lash out at imagined slurs,” says Mrs. Parmela, an English teacher at CSI school.
Teachers are the biggest support system for such children. This is why the State Government mandates a much higher student-teacher ratio for special children. For the hearing impaired, the ratio is 1 teacher for every 10 students.
“If they cannot see us properly, they cannot learn anything,” Mrs. Helimal points out.
“We train all our teachers in psychology of hearing impaired, psychology of deaf-blind, of children with intellectual challenges, because all children won’t face life in the same way. Teachers should know how children with these challenges behave and why,” says Mrs. Deepti.
“Of course, children have their own idiosyncrasies – all of us have – but they learn to adjust when they are with their own kind of people.”
Students of Clarke have learnt to adjust with the outside world as well. So much so, that some of them are working in management positions at leading firms like Infosys. “Their seniors have praised their work,” says Mrs. Deepti, proudly.