VAANI’s First Student in Bangalore

Come listen to the story of Akshara. Young Akshara was a healthy baby until the age of 4 months. One day she fell really sick. For the following 2 days, she became really ill, weak, and restless. Sunitha, her mother, and her father admitted her in a hospital. She then had a round of fits, and was treated by the doctors for it. They also advised the parents to take her to National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS). Sunitha and her husband were told that Akshara had contracted Meningitis. They didn’t even know what the term meant at that time. Akshara went into a coma for 10 days. Her parents saw some relief when she woke up, but it was short-lived. The doctors informed them that as a result of the illness, Akshara might either have visual or hearing impairment, or display signs of mental retardation, or even full or partial paralysis. After she woke up from her coma, the doctors began running tests to check her brain activity. Everything was fine, except she wasn’t responding to sound. They conducted an audiometry test and confirmed that Akshara was now deaf. Sunitha and her husband were sad but relieved. They knew it could have been a lot worse.

After several consultations and referrals, they got Akshara a cochlear implant at the age of 7 months. (A cochlear implant addresses the physical issue of hearing impairment, but it doesn’t mean that as soon as it is done, the person hears perfectly. The deaf person’s mind needs to be trained to make sense of the barrage of sounds the brain is receiving. Intense Auditory-Verbal Therapy is required for the cochlear implant to be of any use.) It was during this time that they met Hemamalini, a trainer at VAANI. It was on Hemamalini’s suggestion that Sunitha brought her daughter, Akshara, to VAANI’s Sadhan Centre in Dasarahalli when it first opened. Akshara became VAANI’s first student at the Dasarahalli Center, and our first in Bangalore. Akshara quickly took to Hemamalini and began to receive all the supplementary training that she needed. The undistinguishable sounds she had been hearing, slowly started making sense; forming words and mental images for her.

Ever since she has been coming to VAANI, her mom says that she’s started socialising a lot more. She has made many new friends at the VAANI centre and at the regular school that she goes to.  Her relationship with her younger brother remains a typical brother-sister relationship, filled with fights, jealousy and lots of love and affection!

Sunitha says that Akshara has become very independent.  In the coming years, she will let Akshara pursue whatever she wants and will encourage her to do as she chooses.

I Love to Dance

Bindhushree, or Bindhu as she is lovingly called, is 9 years old and has a penchant for dancing. She’s absolutely in love with dancing. But there’s one thing that makes her a unique dancer – young Bindhu is deaf. She was diagnosed with 100% hearing loss when she was just a year old. Her parents took her to CMC Hospital in Tamil Nadu when they realised she wasn’t responding to them calling out her or reacting to loud noises. At the CMC Hospital, Bindhu was given a hearing aid. However, her parents didn’t know what to do after that.  It clear to them that just wearing a hearing aid wasn’t going to change much.

Bindhu’s mother, Triveni, put Bindhu in a deaf school in Tumkur where she learnt about VAANI from Miss Hemamalini, a trainer at VAANI, who informed her about the various things that could be done to help her daughter communicate more effectively.  So, Triveni bought Bindhu to the VAANI Sadhan Centre and soon she noticed a difference in her daughter. Before she came to VAANI, Bindhu wasn’t really able to form or vocalise any word. But after being at VAANI, she is now able to say words like “amma”, “appa”, tamma” and “akka”. Her parents were sad at first about having a hearing impaired daughter, but now that she’s coming to VAANI, learning to communicate, and making progress, they are extremely happy. In fact, Bindhu’s mother, Triveni, wanted to share her learning and help other families with deaf kids, and works as a Community Mobiliser for VAANI.  She is now considered a local hero among many parents at the centre since she brought many of them here and introduced them to how much can actually be done for their deaf kids.

Bindhu has grown to be very independent. She does all the household work on her own and no longer depends on anyone anymore. She can now draw and colour. She can count as well as do basic math.  She also knows how to write in Kannada and English. These are just few of the many skills she’s developed after joining VAANI.

Bindhu is a budding dancer, regularly attending dance classes and building her love for this art form. She doesn’t let her hearing disability stop her from doing what she wants. She plays sports as well. Nothing can stop her now!

Her mom’s only complaint now is that she’s never at home! Why? Because she’s always outside playing with her friends and being carefree. So, what about the future? Well, Bindhu’s mom wants her to study well, go outside and make a life for herself. Her only wish is that Bindhu should become independent, self-reliant and make something of herself.