Giving their dreams wings to fly and making them believe that they can pursue higher education, the Indira Gandhi National Open University's (IGNOU) bachelor programme in applied sign language has been a big boost for hearing-impaired students.
Launched earlier this year, the B.A. Programme in Applied Sign Language has 30 hearing-impaired students enrolled for the course.
Sheena Kaul, a 20-year-old student who is enrolled for the course, said she wants to become a filmmaker after she graduates.
'After completing my course, I want to pursue film-making. I want to make films on people who have speech and hearing impairment,' Kaul, who hails from Jammu and Kashmir, told IANS.
Similarly, Kaul's 22-year-old classmate Renu Ahuja said she wants to teach in a school for the hearing-impaired after completing her higher education.
'My dream is to study more, graduate from here and then get a master's degree and a Ph.D. After that, I want to teach in a school for the hearing-impaired and help improve their condition,' Ahuja said.
As they interact with their teachers and fellow classmates, it may seem like not a word has been spoken - when in reality full length conversations and debates take place in gusto in sign language in the classroom.
V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai, vice chancellor of the university, said: 'The aim of this programme is to develop sign language teachers and professionals who are in great demand but are in shortage in India.'
'According to an estimate, only five percent of hearing-impaired children attend schools in India. Even where special schools for the hearing-impaired exist, they do not have adequate technical and teaching staff. We must create qualified professionals in the field,' he added.
P.R. Ramanujam, director of IGNOU's Staff Training and Research Institute of Distance Education (STRIDE), said: 'The programme helps the hearing-impaired better their life, both socially and financially.'
The course was launched in association with the University of Central Lancashire of Britain.