"Unemployment is a big problem among the deaf community here, not to speak of their actual handicap," asserts T. Ramesh, FCF Project Manager for Voice for the Deaf. To address this need for self-sufficiency Voice for the Deaf has developed employment opportunities for the deaf such as our recent Ear Mold Lab.
An ear mold is an integral step in being fitted for a hearing aid. Unfortunately, there are very few people trained to make ear molds in Andhra Pradesh. "With the recent assistance of a national institute, we were able to provide such training for four young deaf people and we then set up a lab for them where they have been producing the molds."
Within months of the lab opening, the newly skilled workforce had already become part of a team of professionals attending composite rehabilitation camps for the disabled, organized by the government in various parts of the state. Since that time, they have provided ear molds to thousands of hearing-impaired people.
Not only have these deaf individuals thus been able to gain employment, but they also provide a much-needed service for other members of the deaf community. "Incidentally, these four individuals are the only deaf people in India who are trained in the making of these molds," adds Ramesh.
Collaborating with another organization, we also conduct medical camps for young hearing-impaired individuals whereby they receive free eye check-ups. Often, here in India the Deaf have a very difficult time when they go to a doctor for a check up because of the communication barrier. At these medical camps, we handle all the interpreting for the deaf attendees. We are often surprised as to the large percentage that need glasses, and in some cases surgery. We then make arrangements to provide free prescription glasses to any deaf attendees who are not able to afford them.