Why Indian Sign Language (ISL) Tour Guides Are Important!

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Our deaf travel expert Dr. Alim Chandani, explains the role of Sign Language (ISL) Tour Guide in both the travel industry and the deaf community. Read on to know the significance of ISL Tour Guides.

Meet our deaf travel expert Dr. Alim Chandani

Meet our deaf travel expert Dr. Alim Chandani

How many of you remember the song featuring Aamir Khan dressed as a clown in the Bollywood movie, “Taare Zameen Par”? Ishan, the dyslexic child, was in awe of how Aamir used new ways and interesting activities to teach. That’s exactly what helped the kid realise he’s no different from others, which helped him to regain his confidence.

Now, imagine, there are over 500 schools for the deaf in India, with an average of 150 deaf students in each school. However, almost all of the teachers can hear and many lack the teaching skills required for the deaf. This scenario is a reality in India today, which means thousands of deaf children face problems with language cognition and education for almost all their school years. This means, a majority of these deaf children are unable to fully understand what is taught. And these kids are eager to learn about the rich cultural history of India, including iconic landmarks such as the Red Fort, Taj Mahal, Qutub Minar, and a myriad of other famous sites, which make India what it is – Incredible.  Many deaf Indians may have visited these sites, but are often unaware of the rich heritage that comes with it.

How Do We Make Travel Informative For The Deaf?

‘ISL Deaf Tour Guides’ is the answer! It is crucial to have deaf tour guides who know Indian Sign Language available throughout the country, because they use visuals or signs to educate the children, adolescents and adults (both hearing and deaf).

7 Reasons Why ISL Deaf Tour Guides Are Essential:

#1 Make India Accessible: ISL deaf tour guides make tourist sites accessible for the Deaf, which also supports the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act.

#2 Generate Business in Tourism Industry: The deaf and hard-of-hearing people constitute approximately 2 crores of the population. Having Deaf Tour Guides would definitely encourage more people from this community to travel to historic places and return with new knowledge and facts; this includes educational field trips for children in schools and colleges. Apart from this, it also gives the deaf an opportunity to be employed.

#3 Professional Development: Being an ISL Deaf Tour Guide is also a respectable professional career option. Such a venture could set the stage for job-mapping, which other travel companies would want to replicate; even the government’s tourism ministry could provision a post for deaf tour guides at all government-run monuments and museums.

#4 Vocational Courses: The success of this venture might lead to more students opting for universities and colleges offering Travel and Tourism courses, which, in turn, could urge institutions to make the courses more inclusive and accessible for the deaf and hard-of-hearing applicants.

#5 Fostering Inclusion & Spirit of Nationalism: The rich history, heritage and culture that India offers is second to none. For decades, the disabled population, especially, the deaf community has had little to no access to the historic knowledge and iconic sites. Having access to these historic sites, and the knowledge that comes with it, is a great way to foster nationalism among the youth.

#6 International Deaf Tourists: India is well known among tourists and many deaf foreign tourists come to the country every season but no access to important sites leave them disheartened. Having deaf interpreters and travel apps would certainly boost the inflow of foreign tourists into India and improve their travel experience within the country.

#7 Awareness, Knowledge & Growth: Indian history helps us bond as one ‘nation’, have pride in the symbols of the country, and encourage national unity. Having accessible services like Deaf Tour Guides will help create awareness and impart knowledge to the deaf people in the country.

All of these practices, together, would certainly ensure a more holistic growth for the Indian Deaf citizens.

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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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