Beauty and Sweety
Beauty and Sweety, 17 year old twin sisters with hearing impairment live in a village named Khanganberia of South 24 Parganas in West Bengal. Born to a mason father and housewife mother Beauty and Sweety started their journey earlier than usual. The premature babies were underweight and needed special medical care. The girls reached all their developmental milestones late. When they were two year old and had no speech, the concerned parents started undertaking the arduous journey of visiting hospitals in Kolkata in the hope of finding some cure for them. But both the girls were diagnosed of severe hearing impairment and the parents were suggested to get hearing aid for them. The financial condition of the family did not permit them to get two pairs of hearing aid at the time.
Facilitators from SANCAHR were informed about Beauty and Sweety by the neighbours who were already receiving support from SANCHAR. The early intervention programme with pre-school education activities started with Beauty and Sweety in 1998. At that time they were two-and-a-half years old.
It was difficult to get them admitted in the primary school. Before the advent of Sarva Shiksha Aviyan, the concept of inclusive education was not common and the school authorities as well as the teachers were not ready to admit children with special needs. SANCHAR intervened to get the twins admitted and organized orientation programme for the teachers in school. Special Teaching-Learning Materials and question papers were supplied to the school by SANCHAR. The facilitators from SANCHAR maintained regular contact with the teachers and these interactions gradually eased the attitude of the teachers. Joining the secondary school was comparatively easy. Although the teachers are unable to give much attention to Beauty and Sweety, the sisters are well adjusted in school. They are able to follow the lessons easily; and since they are always allowed to sit in the front row, they try to lip read the teachers and depend on the written words on the blackboard. There is excellent camaraderie between them and their friends. The friends help the twins with their notes in language-based subjects. The twins help their friends in drawing diagrams in geography and science.
SANCHAR’s early intervention helped the family to adjust with the disability of the children and showed them the way forward. Along with looking after two special children, the mother started her tailoring business which improved the financial condition of the family; turned into a leader of a group – Samadhan – formed by mothers of children with similar disability. Eventually the parents got them two pairs of hearing aid. The speech therapy and coaching in sign language have helped them to communicate with others without any hesitation.
Beauty and Sweety are confident teenagers now. Today Sweety is studying in standard X and Beauty has successfully passed in the secondary level board examination last year. Their days are filled with school work, tuition, and more studies at home! In between the girls regularly take part in community cultural programmes. They not only take part in the dance recital, but help the younger girls to learn dance steps. At home, they help their mother with her tailoring business in their spare time. But above all, both the girls want to learn Indian sign language properly to become sign language teacher in future.