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Deaf Community - India

Rapidly Developing Deaf Community

By

Updated June 27, 2014

Life for deaf and hard of hearing people in India continues to improve. There are more schools for the deaf, a growing number of educational and training opportunities, plus several organizations for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Demographics of Deafness in India

India is a very populous country (estimated 1 billion plus population) so the number of deaf people can not be definitely estimated. It is known to be in the millions - some estimates are as high as 60 million. Although India is rapidly developing, there is still plenty of poverty, and thus a high rate of deafness.

Genetics is also a factor, and the article "Genetics of deafness in India" in The Indian Journal of Pediatrics, volume 71, number 6, 2004 looks at that. In addition, the Indian Council for Medical Research (www.icmr.nic.in) has a project doing genetic studies of Indian families for deafness.

Deaf Culture in India

India celebrates the International Week for the Deaf in September, and September 26 is recognized as the "Day of the Deaf" in India.

Deaf Organizations in India

India has several deaf organizations at the national, state, and regional levels. A listing of the ones I found is at the end of this article. Even deaf women in India have their own organizations. There is the Delhi Foundation of Deaf Women, and the Madras Foundation of Deaf Women.

Deaf Sport in India

India has a handful of deaf sports organizations, including:

  • All India Sports Council of the Deaf
  • All India Cricket Association of the Deaf
  • Delhi Sports Council for the Deaf
Deaf Publications

The only deaf publication I could find was The Deaf Way, a free publication sent to schools and institutions in India. Another one was Silent World, published in Bombay in the 60s through the 70s. A search for cross-disability publications found that the Ability Foundation based in Chennai publishes Success & Ability, which includes deafness articles.

Deaf Entrepreneurship in India

Illiteracy, discrimination, and unemployment plague India's deaf population. Some deaf people in India have been successful in launching their own businesses. One such company is Virtual O (www.virtualo.com/), a greeting card company that sells work by deaf artists in India.

Sign Language in India

India is a huge country and has many variations, or dialects, of sign language. One example is Delhi sign language. Deaf people in the country are reportedly working towards a single sign language. Sign Media (www.signmedia.com) had produced a Signs Around the World video series that included a tape on India showing people in India using sign language.

Make the Sign for India

The sign for "India" is online at

* = Paid site

Interpreting in India

Sign language interpreting is growing as a profession in India. There is a professional organization for Indian sign language interpreters, the Association of Sign Language Interpreters.

Cochlear Implants in India

At the time this article was researched, India already had hundreds of implantees. There is a Cochlear Implant(ation) Group of India (www.cigi.in/). The organization holds annual conferences. There is also a Cochlear Implants Parents Association (New Delhi).

Hearing Aids in India

Some hearing aid companies have India subsidiaries. For example, there is Widex India, which has given free hearing aids to children in India. Another one is Phonak, which has a subsidiary in India. India also has its own hearing aid manufacturers, such as Elkon (www.elkon.com). Another one is Arphi, www.arphi.com.

Television Accesss

Captioning and subtitling services are readily available in india, although according to a 2004 article about the International Conference on Dubbing and Subtitling, captioning services for the deaf on television are reportedly not existent in India. One company, Translation India (www.translationindia.com), advertises captioning services on their website, so maybe things are changing in India.

Deaf History in India

One deaf history resource I found was The Silent Worker (www.aladin.wrlc.org/gsdl/collect/gasw/gasw.shtml), which had a few articles on deafness in India. Of particular interest is the article "The Deaf and the Blind in India." This article was published in The Silent Worker, vol. 33 no. 2 (November 1920). It is photo-illustrated and has interesting historical facts, such as in 1920 there were only 10 schools for the deaf in India! (Many more deaf history resources can be found in the section on Research on Deafness in India farther down this page.)

Education of the Deaf in India

India has numerous schools for the deaf. Several are run by Christian organizations or missions while others are government schools. There are in fact too many to list. At the end of this article is a listing of states and cities with schools for the deaf (not intended to be comprehensive). Some regular schools mainstream or educate deaf children along with children with other disabilities.

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