BENGALURU: Each year people with disabilities and those without find unique ways to celebrate Helen Keller’s birthday. June 27 is the birthday of the woman who inspired millions of people.
This year Bengaluru will celebrate Helen Keller week with a silent human chain, not by holding hands but by forming a chain teaching sign language.
The event titled ‘signathon’ will be first of its kind. Five traffic signals including the Kormanagala Forum signal will see a line of volunteers and the disabled community come together to spread awareness about sign language. About 150 volunteers, including those from the deaf community, will aim to reach out to least 5,000 people on June 25 and conduct a rapid sign-language teaching programme on the go.
“We were thinking of ideas on how could we sensitise people about inclusivity and take an interest in sign language,” says Prarthana Prateek Kaul, co founder of GifAbled, an NGO that is taking this initiative. “Then we thought of signathon.
We are having it for the first time so we are not clearly sure how the event will unfurl... But we will follow ‘each one, teach one’ method of teaching by forming a silent human chain.”
The organization has been operating for three years now and, for the past two years, Helen Keller’s birthday has been celebrated as a GiftAbled week. Last year there was an archery event for the visually impaired. About 30 people participated.
Kavita TS, who is visually impaired, hit the target. She was always fascinated with archery, especially after hearing the tales from Ramayana. It was a surreal feeling for her to have aced the game, says Prarthana. This year too, the week will end with an archery game for the visually impaired.
The NGO also has an e-commerce platform with the same name that sells gift products such as bags, soft-toys and accessories made by the disabled community. This year they have taken another initiative of creating tactile books for the visually impaired.
Tactile books, unlike braille books, have patterns and figures that can be traced with the hands to follow a story. Their first attempt was successful when Pradeep Sinha, who is visually impaired and deaf could follow the starting and the end point of the tactile and feel the mazes.
Prarthana and her partner Prateek Kaul used to work with a corporate before signing on for social service full time eight years ago. The duo travels to other parts of Karnataka to help people with disabilities. The recent observation they made is that majority of the disabilities in the state is because of the marriage between blood-relatives.