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The Pennam Foundation Empowers the Hearing-impaired with Innovative E-learning Programs


Deaf people can do everything hearing people do except hearing. – I. King Jordan, an eminent educator of the hearing-impaired

A report published by the Government of India revealed nearly 2.21% of the Indian populace is suffering from various disabilities and nearly 18% of the disabled people have hearing impairment. Unfortunately, less than 5% of students with hearing challenges in India have access to basic schooling. Even more disturbing is the fact that only 1% of students with impaired hearing in our country have access to education of good quality.

One of the key challenges in delivering quality education and training to these students is limited number of learning institutions. This is further complicated by inadequate involvement of sign language trainers and interpreters in the teaching process; while there are more than 450 qualified Indian sign language specialists in the country, only 364 are providing educational and skill-development services for the hearing-impaired. Considering the large number of deaf and dumb children in the country, the availability of skilled trainers in sign language is abysmally low.

How Can These Challenges Be Overcome?

This problem can be effectively resolved using technology-assisted learning techniques. These techniques involve a combination of courses in Indian sign language and 2-D and 3-D animated videos. The learning techniques enable the students to comprehend academic subjects with high efficacy, thereby boosting their confidence levels and empowering them to participate in the global job market.

How Is the Pennam Foundation Helping Deliver Technology-enabled Learning?

At the Pennam Foundation, we earnestly believe children with hearing and speech-related problems deserve to have the same opportunities to learn and grow as any other normal child. Our foundation, together with Solunus Technologies Pvt. Ltd. and Kairos Technologies Pvt. Ltd., has partnered with Nextel Meta, the developer of E Sign Meta app. This app is a novel blended learning solution for students with hearing and speech problems. It caters to the needs of students studying in classes 3 to 10.

The app leverages engaging videos and provides training on Indian sign language with e-learning modules; this will help improve the ability of the students to communicate effectively. It is very useful for students studying in schools that follow the curriculum prescribed by state government boards as well as the Central Board of Secondary Education.

The Pennam Foundation organized a program to gift 50 tablets containing digital learning materials for students of Class 10. This went a long way in helping the poor hearing-impaired learners, who cannot afford to buy expensive instructional materials.

Launching the program, Mr. Sudhakar Pennam, the founder of the Pennam Foundation said, “Quality education plays a key role in improving the lot of the hearing-impaired. While we may not be able to help all students with hearing problems, this initiative will enable at least some of them to have access to good education. Our foundation will further collaborate with Nextel Meta in the coming days to provide 50 more tablets and ensure its solutions reach more children with disabilities.”

“Partnerships play a key role in ensuring the success of initiatives designed to assist students with disabilities,” added Mr. Pennam. We will continue to work with various government agencies and educational and charitable organizations to help differently abled learners realize the full potential of their inherent capabilities and succeed in their personal and professional lives.”


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