BAASLS 2014 graduates celebrate success
The iSLanDS Institute is excited to share the success of several graduates from our BA in Applied Sign Language Studies (BAASLS) course, which is based in India. These graduates come from many different parts of the world and have progressed impressively in academic and professional arenas since their time on BAASLS.
A number of graduates are now working at Dr. Shakuntala Mishra National Rehabilitation University (DSMNRU) in Lucknow, India, while others went back to their countries of origin to establish their own projects. Some are planning placements at deaf educational institutions in India.
Graduate Achungla Ao from India currently works as a teacher, and has been hired to lecture at DSMNRU’s Centre for Indian Sign Language and Deaf Studies, on the bridge programme for pre-degree deaf students which begins in summer 2015. She plans to continue her studies and pursue a career in deaf education.
She said: “When I was first informed about BAASLS, I did not expect much. I was interested to join it only for the aim of befriending and interacting with deaf youngsters like me. But joining the course in the summer of 2011 changed my life for the better; not only did I come into contact with brilliant deaf students, but also the teachers and the course content gave me a new challenge. I changed my perspective on being deaf and I started cherishing sign language and understanding deaf culture. Coming from the remotest state of India, namely Nagaland, I was unaware of deaf studies and applied sign linguistics, and BAASLS helped me to open my eyes to the myriad of possibilities in the area of deaf education with the firm support of sign bilingualism. I am very thankful to BAASLS and my teachers for believing in me and encouraging me in all my academic areas”.
Fellow graduate Sachin Singh is also working as a teacher and set to teach on the bridge programme at DSMNRU. He said BAASLS has allowed him to fulfil his dream of interacting in society as a professional with a strong skill set. In addition to being involved with sports, he works with several NGOs to represent deaf people.
He added: “I was born into a deaf family with a deaf sibling, but enrolling on BAASLS was a life-changing event. The popularity of this course allowed me to explore my potential and disseminate the knowledge I gained to members of India’s deaf community through lectures, workshops, seminars and informal get-togethers. During my course I learned a great deal from everyone, including both deaf and hearing teachers who signed as well as visitors from Belgium, France, Mexico, the Czech Republic, the UK and Germany. It helped me to realise my true deaf identity. Now I am enthusiastic about my work at the new Centre and providing a quality teaching service to deaf students on the pre-degree course”.
Graduate Cynthia Ndabazimvye from Burundi said her experiences while on the programme were invaluable. Her thesis focussed on the early intervention services available to deaf babies and their parents in Burundi.
She commented: “I learned about many different factors linked to raising the status of sign language and deaf education, which led me to my fascinating thesis research. I am now planning to continue and extend the work from my thesis through a new project”.
Graduate Noah Ahereza from Uganda is currently a volunteer consultant with the Deaf Development Foundation (DDF) based in Gujarat, India. He plans to return to Uganda in 2015 to continue his work with the Uganda National Association of the Deaf (UNAD), focussing on the sign language department which he was involved in before joining BAASLS.
He explained: “The demand for sign language research and training in Uganda was huge; hence I was required to deepen and upgrade my understanding of sign linguistics. BAASLS came at the right time. It gave me the opportunity to understand sign language linguistics and deaf culture both in theory and practice. I hope, with this knowledge and further training, we will be able to explore African sign languages in different aspects.”
Noah aims to gain sponsorship for a master’s degree and become a lecturer of sign language interpreting and deaf studies at Uganda’s Kyambogo University.
He added: “This collaborative programme has created a positive precedent that I call upon other universities around the world to emulate in order to attract the best deaf students, especially those from developing countries”.
Graduate Aline Berahino shared her objective of supporting and advocating deaf children’s right to education in Burundi, and said she currently enjoys teaching deaf children as a volunteer, using sign language.
She commented: “In India I was nervous during my first days, mainly because the culture and sign language were so different from what I was accustomed to, but my new friends supported me in my adjustment to a new life as well as to Indian Sign Language”.
Aline would like to give special thanks to Professor Ulrike Zeshan for establishing BAASLS, because she said it provided her with the skills she needs to teach deaf pupils and she wants a similar programme to be provided in her home country.
She added: “I am looking forward to new challenges in Burundi by working together with the entire deaf community and lobbying for their basic rights. I consider education to be an issue of great importance for the whole society and country, and my dream has always been to open a new school for the deaf children in my native village”.
Omprakash Bramhe, a BAASLS graduate from India, joined DSMNRU as a research assistant in September. He said that upon discovering Delhi’s Deaf community and Indian Sign Language at the age of 24, he saw the rich opportunities in academic exchange with international Deaf colleagues, which he pursued by enrolling on BAASLS.
He is especially interested in graphic design after working on the dictionary of Chican Sign Language alongside fellow BAASLS alumnus Cesar Ernesto Escobedo Delgado from Mexico, with whom he gave a presentation at the SIGN6 conference last year in Goa. He added: “I feel there is severe shortage of deaf people working in the graphic design field in India, and in the future, I hope to see more deaf designers.”
Graduate Deepu Mamuni is from a deaf family in Kerala, India, and now works there as an Indian Sign Language teacher. Deepu commented: “The BAASLS programme helped me open my mind to the field of sign language linguistics. In childhood, I did not think of sign languages as being important. My experience on BAASLS showed me that in fact, these are the powerful languages of Deaf people, and the course provided me with the opportunity to acquire skills and knowledge related to Deaf culture, Deafhood, Deaf education, sign-bilingual teaching methods, language acquisition and peer mentoring. As there were Indian as well as international students, the classroom discussions on these topics really broadened my horizons. I have also learnt how to critically analyse and develop teaching materials for Deaf students.”
Deepu added: “Now I would like to support Deaf children and adults to acquire these kinds of skills, and especially to help them improve their abilities in reading and writing English.”
We also have some updates on our 2013 graduates. In addition to educational consultancy work in Uganda and lecturing at Kyambogo University, graduate Kakooza Muhammed has gained a research position on a sign language dictionary project in Rwanda. In addition, two other 2013 graduates are now in teaching posts in Kerala.
We are honoured to share these stories here and wish all of our BAASLS graduates the very best success as they take their academic and professional careers into the future.