voice of Voiceless (VOV) is an organization initiated by Mr. Yogesh Bhange and Mrs. Jayprada Bhange in the year 2009 in Shetphal, Solapur. They believe that constitution has provided a right of freedom of speech to all Indians but the child/person who has speech impairment is excluded from this. Then they started VOV with the vision of creating inclusive world for deaf and dumb children. Being a parent of a hearing impaired child who can now talk because he was diagnosed and treated on the problem of hearing impairment at an early stage, Yogesh and Jayprada decided to empower other parents of similar struggle as them. It’s a movement of such parents. Under the guidance of CORO through advance fellowship both the founders could conduct a survey of hearing impaired children between the age group of 0 to 6 years in Solapur District. And through this survey they could identify 89 such children who were hearing impaired. In order to test the level of hearing impairment, there are a few tests that need to be done, but they are very expensive and are done in cities like Pune, Mumbai, which is very far from the parents staying in villages. Thus, the duo has come up with a cost efficient test called “Taat Waati Chachni” through which they identify the hearing impaired children and provide speech therapy sessions designed by them at their own home. As the organization does not have any financial support they are unable to provide hearing aid to these children.
“The prevalence of deafness in India is fairly significant. It is the second most common cause of disability. “Approximately 63 million people (6.3%) in India suffering from significant auditory loss” (Sulabha, Mahendra & Akriti, 2013). The recent head count conducted by Census of India, 2001 defined persons with hearing disability as those who cannot hear at all (deaf) or can hear only loud sounds which clearly excluded people who had hearing impairment but who could hear through use of amplification devices. Yet, the Census did include as disabled, people who could not hear with one ear, but his/ her other ear was working normally.
As on 1st March 2001, India’s population stood at 1,027,015,247 and projected population in 2016 would be 1,263,543,000 (Census of India, 2001) A majority of persons with hearing disability were identified in rural India (81.06%) except in the Union Territory of Chandigarh, Delhi, and Daman and Diu. Maharashtra state has a total disabled population 15, 69,582. Out of those 113,043 are Speech disabled and 92,390 are hearing disable (Shodhana n.d.). National Sample Survey (NSS) 58th Round of Survey estimated persons with disability to be 18.49 million (1.8 per cent of the total population). Ten per cent of the persons with disability are likely to have hearing disability of moderate to profound degree. In Maharashtra this number is likely to go up if we add lower degree of hearing disability With such a large number of hearing impaired young Indians, it amounts to a severe loss of productivity, both physical and economic. An even larger percentage of our population suffers from milder degrees of hearing loss and unilateral (one sided) hearing loss. (NPPCD, 2012)
Early identification & timely intervention with appropriate support from the family and community is the key to manage this issue. Early diagnosis and suitable amplification is mandatory for speech training. Shortly after birth, every neonate should be screened by BERA (Brainstem Evoked Response Audiometry) testing. Speech training should be initiated as early as two years of age with an amplification device such as bone conduction hearing aid. Surgery, where indicated should be performed after careful assessment of each case. Cochlear implant surgery has evolved in recent years and many centres in India are conducting this operation with fairly good outcomes. However, the cost of the implant being prohibitive, not many can afford to avail of this facility (Sulabha, Mahendra & Akriti, 2013). To avoid this situation early identification & timely intervention is the only way to address this issue.
In 2014, Voice of Voiceless themselves had conducted a survey in Solapur district, where they conducted a test called “Taat Wati Chachni” and through this test/survey the organization identified 89 hearing impaired children under the age of 6 years.
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