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V-SAT on deafness - sharing information via satellite links in Karnataka
21 December 2006
- In this case study, Janani Raghupathy describes an innovative way of sharing information in rural Karnataka. Community development organisation MYRADA teamed up with VOICES and IDCS-India to link rural communities to a conference discussion on deafness.
What is MYRADA?
MYRADA is a non-governmental organisation managing rural development programmes in 3 States of South India and providing on-going support including deputations of staff to programmes in 6 other States. It also promotes the Self Help Affinity strategy in Cambodia, Myanmar and Bangladesh.You can find out more on the MYRADA website at: www.myrada.org.
As part of the work in rural areas MYRADA in partnership with UNDP and VOICES has undertaken a legal empowerment project. After needs analysis they have identified four areas where they feel legal empowerment is very necessary. The four areas are as follows: disability, the others vulnerable groups (women and children), senior citizens and property rights. However they found that it is not possible to talk to the people directly about their legal rights as levels of awareness is very low. MYRADA then realized the need to create awareness in the people before talking about legal rights and about the disability Act etc. As part of creating awareness on disability issues they invited IDCS-India to provide information regarding facilities available for hearing impaired in rural Karnataka. They will be organizing similar sessions for other disabilities as well.
What is V-SAT?
The V-SAT programme makes use of the Indian Space Research Organisation satellites and has covered several districts in Karnataka.
There are MYRADA resource centers in one village in most of the districts in southern states of India. These centres are connected to the V-SAT link and equipped with a camera and sound systems. Public from villages in these districts assemble in the centre and the resource person is located at one centre and is able to answer queries from people all over Karnataka!
People from all centers can see the resource person and hear the queries raised by other centers at all times during the discussion.
Once the equipment and infrastructure is in place, this system has great cost-benefits.The sheer geography of the states and the time required to travel across to these villages is all cut down. Only one resource person can answer queries from large numbers of people.
How do people find out about the V-SAT programme?
These resource centers are run and managed by the local people. They actively promote the formations of “sanghas” or self help groups. Every centre has a Community Resource Manager who takes up the responsibility of informing people of the Sanghas regarding the subject matter of the V-SAT telecast. They people from the sanghas then spread the word in the villages.
Alternatively people from the village are now aware of these activities and make enquires at the centre about the subject matter for discussion. Depending on the matter of discussion specific target groups are invited for the programme.
What happened at the V-SAT on deafness?
The IDCS-India Project Officer for Karnataka, Janani Ragupathy was present at the centre with Lawerence and Somasunder (2 Deaf persons) to assist her in answering queries. Several parents from various villages were present. After a short introduction, the audience was invited to ask questions, and the questions just poured in. They had a wide range of queries about education, about government facilities like pension and passes, regarding obtaining of hearing aids etc. Most of the parents had never got their children’s hearing tested and very few had hearing aids.
Information was given directing them to special schools in their district (where such information was specifically sought). Information was also given regarding accessing Disability Rights Commissioners in their districts. Facilities at the All India Institute of Speech and Hearing and mothers training programmes (wherever applicable) were discussed.
Since this V-Sat model was launched only 3 days before the V-SAT on deafness, the model could still be improved. In this case, the question answer sessions became a little unwieldy with parents of children with all disabilities too asking questions. There were several questions that could not be answered and these participants were informed that their queries would be answered in future sessions with relevant resource persons.
Lawrence and Somasunder shared their stories, which were appreciated by the audience. The session lasted from 11:00am to 1:30pm. There is a demand from the audience for another such programme.
After discussions with MYRADA it was decided that the resource centres would first do a needs analysis and make a list of deaf parents and deaf adults. They would then collect questions in advance from these participants, which will be passed on to the panel, which could then go to these sessions better prepared.
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