DEAFREACH's project Manager, J.S.K. Rao had been a member of the Rehabilitation Council of India's National Sub-Committee on Deafness. (A National policymaking Body under the Indian Government's Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment)
Obituary and Tribute to J.S.K. Rao
We regret to inform you of the sudden death of the founder of Deaf Reach, J.S.K RAO, on the 24th of November, 2001. On the morning of the 24th he suffered a ruptured aortic anemyum/duodenal perforation. He was cremated on the 25th and ashes taken to the HIMALAYAS by Arun Rao.
We at DEAF REACH have pledged to carry through the vision of JSK Rao.
Brief about J.S.K.Rao… A willing warrior for the Deaf.
Born to Varalakshmi and Prof. Jayanti Ramakrishna, JSK grew up on his much-beloved IIT Bombay, campus with his sister Anuradha. His father passed on when he was a young lad of 16. While in the 1st year, B.Sc, he was a dreamer and searching for the truth and real meaning in his life. One day he met a volunteer organization, "The Family", and knew that he had found the answer to his dreams. Some time later, he assisted colleagues in Delhi in the teaching of their deaf son, and this little spark kindled a great fire…. and soon JSK saw that he had found his true vocation, his life's mission… SERVING THE DEAF.
In 1991 JSK moved to Hyderabad to seek out deaf people and met a group of 12 young deaf teenagers whom he took under his wing. These same youngsters are today the mature young leaders of Deaf Reach. He brought them hope, inspiration, friendship and most of all, love… the meaning of which many were previously unaware of. He nurtured each of them in his own inimitable style, placing full confidence in God, both for his own personal growth and progress as well as for that of the deaf in his care. A miraculous transformation then followed, and these same young deaf people were changed from the withdrawn and unconfident people they had been previously to the dynamic and caring people they are today, infusing spirit to make a difference to the deaf community.
In 1997 JSK started a grassroots level Empowerment Program, with Sign Language as the vehicle. He studied, read, attended seminars and fought vociferously for the rights of the deaf. After his appointment to the Rehabilitation Counsel of India Committee on the Hearing Impaired, he was able to bring these pertinent issues to light, and every one working with deafness began to see his wisdom. Sign Language finally began to be accepted as the natural language of the deaf in India.
JSK taught the deaf everything in sign language. He trained them in English, Computers and Self-reliance, and from this sprang the first Deaf Reach Computer Center in Babu Khan in 1999. Another Center was opened the following year, both manned and run totally by the Deaf, who though shaken by the death of JSK, have the confidence to keep on and fulfill his vision of a totally empowered and aware Deaf Community.
The man of a million dreams for the deaf, he went to visit the only university for the deaf in the world, Gallaudet, in Washington DC U.S.A., and returned with ideas aplenty. The important baseline of EMPOWERMENT was the lifeline of the activities of Deaf Reach. He worked tirelessly for the employment of deaf persons and demanded that the government do more for them on every platform. Being a teacher the deaf always called him so and yet his dream was to make the deaf capable of teaching other deaf. It was with this great determination that the Teacher's Training Center was started in Shivrampally on 1st October, 2000.
The year 2001, the most happening year for the Indian Deaf Community, was the year that the Lord saw fit to take him Home to his reward. His dreams for a National Seminar on bilingual education with foreign experts and a pilot workshop for interpreters of the deaf were all fulfilled this year. We feel it is of great significance that the Indian Sign Language Dictionary was released in Coimbatore on the 24th November, the day of his passing. His passing leaves a void too large for any one to fill; not only in all our hearts but also in the deaf world.
---Mrs. Christine Skinner-Lazarus, Chairperson and Mg Director (MLA89-94)