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Friday Jul 05 2019
Web Desk

Pakistani start-up wins Diana Award for work on deaf community's social inclusion

Web Desk

A Pakistani start-up aimed at fostering the deaf community's inclusion in society and encouraging the use of sign language, ConnectHear, has been honoured with The Diana Awards "for going above and beyond in their daily lives to create and sustain positive change", a press release said.

The start-up was incubated at the Nest I/O in Pakistan and is led by a team of aspiring young people, including Arhum Ishtiaq, Azima Dhanjee, Areej Al Medinah, Zainab Syed, Syed Talal Ali, and Sadaf Amin.

The six team members work towards the goal of "social inclusion of the Deaf Community through Sign Language interpretation services".

It is noteworthy that Pakistan has some 10 million individuals with some level of hearing loss and less than one percent of those have professional sign language interpreters.

ConnectHear encourages sign language awareness and learning via training and certification. They also make crucial efforts for "inclusion in the community’s academic institutions, professional environments, and social events, and hopes to reshape the way in which deaf people are received and perceived in Pakistani society.

"ConnectHear’s remote and instant video Sign Language interpretation service is the first to cater to these individuals located throughout the country," the press statement said.

In this regard, Dhanjee, one of the team members, said: “Growing up, I saw my deaf parents struggle with communicating with the outside world. I saw raw talent go unrecognized because of the barrier that is language.

"Using that as a motivation, we aimed to create a platform to eliminate this communication gap and help the deaf people reach their potential."

Her teammate, Ali, stated: “Creating inclusive content for the Pakistani Deaf Community has granted me the right to learn more about them and their potentiality.

"It has made me more compassionate and tolerant.”

Another team member, Syed, said: “I feel that it is our responsibility to ensure that deaf people are understood and granted unconditional access to the same opportunities as we are.

"It is important to quash the narrative that deaf people are incapable, when they are competent, can feel, be seen, and therefore should be welcomed.”

Amin, a sign language instructor who is also part of the team, explained: "The community stands in need of feeling embraced, listened to, like someone made the effort to learn to communicate with them in their tongue.”

The Diana Awards, which are presented by an eponymous charity, note that they aim to "develop and inspire positive change in the lives of young people".