Taking on the Rapids at Rishikesh – A #CanDo Story

On 2nd May, 34 deaf students took on a challenge to face the rapids in Rishikesh, and boy were they successful! Watch our deaf expert Dr. Alim Chandani‘s vlog, where he shares their exhilarating experience, and see the fun they had through the photographs below…

PS: If you don’t understand sign language, click on the subtitles option in video. You can also read about his experience below. 

There are times when you may find yourself wondering how deaf people can enjoy white water rafting safely. How are they able to take on the rapids without being able to hear or speak – two of the most important activities required to ensure a safe journey? How would these individuals be able to respond to emergency services if they found themselves stranded in the middle of the river?
Well, this unique photo blog intends on taking you on a short visual journey that will help you understand how deaf individuals do it – without their hearing or speaking disabilities holding them back!

We start our story in New Delhi. Thirty-four rising deaf college graduates joined as pioneers in our one-of-a-kind skill hub for the deaf as part of our Centum-GRO Initiative (a CSR arm of Centum Foundation). We introduced courses that target our students’ intrinsic learning such as Deaf Empowerment and Self-Initiation Skills. We also offered English and Multimedia domain training courses as well. Our ultimate goal was to empower students to think outside the box.

While taking our courses, a group of students showed a lot of interest in organising a camping trip. They wanted to coordinate everything by themselves as we always encouraged them to take the lead and use the resources our course equipped them with. As most of the students came from outside Delhi, the student organisers felt that a unique camping and rafting experience would be a great idea. This is when I reached out to Enable Travel and asked them to help us out, as they have firsthand experience to see deaf individuals overcome obstacles while camping and rafting.

One instance that sticks out in my mind is during one of our interactions with Camp Aquaterra (tour agency). Enable Travel was helping us coordinate with the tour agency, when they asked us if we would need 5 hearing interpreters to convey the leaders’ messages to the students. I was taken aback and asked why we would need them. The representative seemed confused by my answer, so I clarified, “We are fully capable of handling it on our own. The use of hand signals will help us understand and respond appropriately.”

Our students nodded their heads in agreement, becoming advocates of their own identity instantly. They were absolutely thrilled when they realised that our trip was 100% accessible! A lot of the students had camped for the first time, and they embraced the hashtag that Enable Travel proudly endorses: #CanDo. The group of students who organised the trip were also emboldened, and they look forward to becoming travel agents in the future.

None of this would have been possible without the incredible support from Enable Travel and Camp Aquaterra. I’m sure that now Camp Aquaterra will be more understanding and inclusive while planning their future trips. Thanks, Enable Travel!

The comfortable tents we slept in

Living the nomad life! Here’s a snap of the comfortable tents we slept in

Hiking! In this picture, our interpreter is translating a story about the village we visited

Hiking! In this picture, our interpreter is translating a story about the village we trekked to

Students purified from the holy Ganga River. The water was freezing!

Our students purified from the holy Ganga River. And let me tell you the water was freezing!

Students playing badminton before we head out rafting!

Badminton is always a good idea, especially before a thrilling rafting session

Students thrilled when they learned they could ride in the back of the truck!

The thought of riding in the back of the truck got all our students super excited

Our students listen attentively to understand how to have a safe rafting experience

Safety first! Our students listen attentively to understand how to have a safe rafting experience

One of the undeniable benefits of knowing sign language: being able to communicate without having to yell or scream

One of the undeniable benefits of knowing sign language, being able to communicate without having to yell or scream

The legendary bridge of Rishikesh

The legendary ‘Lakshman Jhula’ bridge of Rishikesh

The splendour of Rishikesh

The splendour of Rishikesh

I think the monkey wants to say hello!

I think the monkey wants to say hello!

This gorgeous artwork is a perfect symbolic representation of the salon on the right of this photo

This gorgeous artwork is a perfect symbolic representation of the salon on the right of this photo

Ganga Aarti was a sight to behold with the sunset in the background!

Ganga Aarti was a sight to behold with the sunset in the background!

Grateful to witness one of the holiest locations in India

Grateful to witness one of the holiest locations in India

Special thanks to these two awesome (from left; Akshay and ) individuals Enable Travel!

Special thanks to these two awesome individuals Enable Travel (from left; Akshay, Animesh & Dr. Alim)

A group photo of us signing “#CANDO”!

A group photo of us signing “#CANDO”

Want to follow the group on their fun journey and witness their thrilling river rafting experience? Check out the video below!

Interested in an accessible adventure? Visit enabletravel.com or call 1800 266 8002

Alim Chandani

Dr. Alim Chandani, is currently the Associate Vice President of Centum—GRO initiative, which focuses on skilling the Deaf for advanced employment opportunities in India. He has graduated with a Doctorate Degree in Special Education Management from Gallaudet University in Washington DC.

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