Category: Long-term initiative
Title: Noida Deaf Society: Using social media for the disabled
Share a little about your organisation
Noida Deaf Society was set up in 2005 and is perhaps the only non profit organization in India working for the empowerment of deaf. (Most NGOs in India work on advocacy issues for the disabled). It first trains the deaf youth in vocational skills and connects with the industry of various sectors for placement of its deaf students. Over 300 deaf students have been placed in various organizations till date.
I am a volunteer with Noida Deaf Society. I am very enthusiastic about social media and while we have a lot of organizations integrating social media with non profits, I thought of experimenting with social media for the disabled community through a nonprofit. I have majored in ICT engineering and I wanted to do something to provide timely information to people who might not have the regular medium like phone, mobile or TV to stay updated.
The unique thing about this case study is that it aims to benefit a disabled community. In India, deaf communities are usually ignored and under estimated. Most remain illiterate or socially outcast if born to hearing parents. With this background, the social media initiative which has been taken has come as a ray of hope, a friend to every deaf person wanting to be heard.
The Noida Deaf Society’s Facebook page was created in April 2010 with the aim to keep the deaf community updated about the activities at Noida Deaf Society. The deaf can only communicate by sign language and internet is a very powerful medium for them to communicate with their deaf friends across the world as well as some friends they might have in the hearing world.
This project was initiated not to gain financially but to provide a platform to the deaf people to express their thoughts and help them to access right information about activities at Noida Deaf Society. The power of having the right information at the right time can go a long way to improve the lives of marginalized communities in India.
There were no particular resources and budget so to speak. I visited Noida Deaf Society frequently to gather photos, videos and information and used them to update Facebook and Twitter.
The stakeholder was the deaf community particularly students who came to Noida Deaf Society to learn vocational skills. Honestly speaking I did not expect such an overwhelming response from the deaf community. Initially, I only shared news particular to Noida Deaf Society but when I saw deaf people from all over India and the world liking the page, I have started sharing general news about the deaf empowerment too. Whenever there is an update on the page, one can see the excitement and enthusiasm of deaf students. They are able to express themselves with limited English grammar and vocabulary but anyone reading their comments will know how eager they are to express their inner thoughts. Also Noida Deaf Society’s Facebook page became a platform for the students at Noida Deaf Society to connect with their deaf counterparts across the world.
About the initiative
The frequency of update is connected with the activities which happen in Noida Deaf Society. The page is updated regularly since there is always something interesting going on at Noida Deaf Society. I use pictures and videos primarily since the deaf will not be able to comprehend large amount of information. At the most, I update status in one or two lines which the deaf can understand.
Impact – Outcome
I think the impact has been huge. I haven’t kept track of the numbers but if they are anything to go by, today we have 436 fans on Facebook (the people who like this page are mostly deaf and considering the level of basic education they receive and the level of internet familiarity I think this is a decent number).
Barclays, Noida donated some printers and projectors after I tweeted about the need for them at Noida Deaf Society.
So, many deaf youth across India have contacted Noida Deaf Society through email and SMS wanting to join us, learn skills and get employed to earn a respectable livelihood.
I did not know that the deaf community is net savvy, so many of them have Facebook accounts and regularly check updates during the day. Also, some of them are eager that someone should talk to them. There are many excited ‘Hi’ and ‘Hellos’ expecting a reply. While I used other forms of social media like Twitter and Blog too, Facebook emerged as the popular medium.
The major challenge I faced was that the English used on the page had to be really simple so that the deaf could understand. Some deaf students have good English skills; some do not have enough knowledge so the challenge lies in updating everything in the simplest manner.
The initiative is in a good form with word of mouth and referencing publicity done by the deaf community. It is a long term initiative and will continue acting as a platform to be the voice of the deaf.
The initiative has been popular especially in a country like India where the deaf are looked upon as a community incapable of doing anything. Furthermore, India is not a disabled friendly country and with this background it is significant to note that the page has been very popular among the deaf.
Name of the company: Noida Deaf Society
Number of employees: 11-50
Category: Not for profit institution
Case submitted by: Supriya Agarwal – Voluntary Community Evangelist
Website : http://noidadeafsociety.wordpress.com/