How I overcame my disability to become what I am now

Blog by
Parvathy Pavithran
Senior Software Engineer and Faculty, NISH

I am currently working as a Faculty in Computer Science at NISH, where I teach the deaf students who undergo the BSc (Computer Science) (HI) course. I came to NISH in 2001 and I am still working here.

I will share with you about my journey and experiences with my disability – hearing impairment. I was born with this disability but it was not noticeable to others. It was when I was three years old when I joined school that one of my teachers noticed that I did not respond to their call. They called my parents and told them about their doubt. At that time (the end of the 70s), there was no means to check hearing loss in in my home state, Kerala. So they took me toAll India Institute of Speech and Hearing (AIISH), Mysore where they confirmed about my hearing loss. They fitted me with pocket type hearing aids. Thus my life’s journey using hearing aids began. These pocket type hearings were actually a disadvantage compared to the small Behind the Ear (BTE) hearing aids used nowadays. Later when I got job, BTE hearing aids were developed and I could use them. After that I got programmable hearing aids when they were available in the market. Now I am using programmable hearing aids in both ears which are behind the ear.Nobody can notice that I have hearing aids.

My loving parents were very desperate and helpless when they knew about my disability. But they got through the shock and didn't know how to go about with my education in early childhood. They decided to take me to speech therapy sessions and educate me in hearing schools. They treated me like a regular child and took me wherever they went. When I was 6 years old, my brother was born. He had more hearing loss than me at that time and so he needed more attention than me from my parents. So I decided to look after my studies myself without depending too much on my parents so that they could focus on my brother’s education more.

At school, I always sat on the front seat so that I could view the teacher’s facial expressions clearly. The school life at Chennai during my third and fourth standard made a drastic change in my life. I could study there as my father went to pursue his doctorate at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras.

The main highlight of this school was that children from all over India studied here. So by communicating with them, my English language became well developed. The interaction with these students made me a different person so that I grew up as a child with proper language. My speech also improved a lot so that all could understand what I said. I never had to struggle in life like before because I had proper language and speech. I am very grateful that my parents sent me to a normal school. After returning from Chennai I continued my education in schools in Trivandrum. I completed my tenth standard with high first class and for two year pre-degree also I got first class. During these years of education, my only difficulty was that I could not write down the notes by hearing what the tutor said. So I copied the notes from my friend sitting next to me. By this time, my English language skills were so good that I could notice the spelling mistakes in my benefactor’s notes!.

My aim was to become an engineer like my father. So I wrote the Kerala State Engineering Degree Entrance examination . This is the examination through which students are ranked for admission to Engineering Colleges in the state. But the number of seats for engineering were very few and so I did not get the necessary rank to be selected for admission. In today’s condition, if one scored the rank I secured at that time, she would have got selection. I was a little desperate but I joined for Entrance coaching classes and wrote the entrance once more. This time I got selection and was able to study at the College of Engineering, Trivandrum which is one of the premier Engineering colleges in Kerala. Engineering was not at all a bed of roses for me. The lecturers did not give notes in class. What I did to solve this was to go to library and make notes of my own. Thus I prepared beautiful notes consisting of important points and formulas. All this process was very tiring and time consuming but I took all this effort and got first class in Engineering. It was a really proud moment for my loving parents.

Then I joined for a three month computer course. I got a job in a reputed company in Technopark through campus selection. My parents were happy as I could get job through my own effort. I worked in that company for 2 years. IT field did not interest me at all as my passion was teaching. Also, I am a social being who like to interact with people. So I threw away that high collar job and joined NISH and have been working here for around 13 years. Teaching always give me satisfaction as I am trying to make a student understand the concepts. At NISH I have taken classes for both hearing and deaf students. The mode of teaching is different for the two cases – first is the vocal method and the second one is the sign language mode combined with oral teaching where the student use the residual hearing and read the lips of the teacher

I am thankful to God for giving me an understanding husband and a loving daughter who support me very well.

I will share with you in my next blog of my experience in teaching deaf students.