Ten words are taught in each video on CADRRE’s channel
With nimble fingers and expressive faces, two confident young women fluently explain the significance of International Day of Sign Languages, which falls on September 23. Their explanation is entirely in Indian Sign Language (ISL) and the two women, Lekshmy R and Parvathy R, art teachers at The Centre for Autism and other Disabilities Rehabilitation Research and Education (CADDRE), elaborate why ISL is a mark of their identity as hearing-challenged persons. Subtitles and a voiceover help them in reaching out to those who do not understand ISL.
Produced by CADRRE, the video is part of a series of YouTube tutorials on ISL for parents of children with communication challenges and for anyone interested in picking up yet another language.
“During this period, when our students are at home, we felt this would be a good time to reach out to parents of children with communication challenges with videos on ISL. At some point, they can use these to teach their children too. That was how these videos were conceptualised. We hope to upload five videos in a week,” says Renuka Remesan, technical adviser at CADDRE.
After years of work with the hearing-challenged, Renuka mentors those teaching and interpreting ISL. She says that ethically, there is a line of thought that sign language is best taught by hearing- and speaking-challenged people themselves since it is their ‘natural language’, means of communication and a mark of their identify. So, hearing-challenged twins Lekshmy and Parvathy were roped into the project to make people aware of the importance of ISL.
Signing can also be effective for individuals with autism because of the repetition of the sign in the same visual place, allowing them to process and commit the sign and its meaning along with the spoken word to long-term memory, says a release from CADRRE.
Lekshmy R and Parvathy R | Photo Credit: Special arrangement
“And those who want to can also learn the language to converse with those with communication challenges. My son, Saarang A, for instance, has been learning the language from YouTube tutorials. I observed that all those videos were by people whose first language was not sign language. That is when I thought of similar videos by Lekshmy and Parvathy who are fluent in ISL,” says Malini Unnithan, Centre Coordinator, Head, CADRRE.
In a WhatsApp message, Lekshmy says that they first learnt American Sign Language in Gallaudet University, Washington DC. “We began learning ISL recently and both of us are very happy to speak in sign language. My son understands a bit of sign language,” she says over WhatsApp.
Every video tutorial has 10 words expressed in ISL and each word is visualised by Mohit and Dhanush, Lekshmy’s and Parvathy’s five-year-old sons.
Parvathy adds that her son can lip-read and so communication has not been difficult at all.
The first of the videos were released on the YouTube channel of CADRRE on September 23. With subtitles and audio and visual clues, the videos are easy to comprehend. The script is by Renuka and voiceover is by her and Lekshmi Nair, principal adviser of CADRRE. Editing has been done by Radhika SB, communications executive at the Centre.
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