Growing up with deaf parents, it always bothered Azima how a simple communication was a challenge for the deaf due to language barrier.
“You see, both my parents are deaf and mute while my brother and I have no such ‘limitation’,” shares Azima. “The first time my classmates saw me communicate with my mother in sign language, they started laughing because they had never seen such a thing before. I did not understand what was so funny but I knew there was something “different” about the way I communicated with my mother.”
Before this point, her parents had never let her feel any different. Her family is like just any other family. The only difference is that she has had to use sign language to talk to her parents. However, gradually, she started to notice how life isn’t the same for her parents as it is for other people. Growing up, she also heard a lot of stories from her grandmother about the struggle her mom has had to go through. She has also faced a lot of questions about how her family manages to live through this disability and some people have even gone as far as to ask her brother if they ever wished that their parents were not the way they are.
“Fortunately, our parents brought us up to be both affectionate and strong and so none of this ever bothered me much,” she shares. “I have always liked being the interpreter for my parents whether it be a parent-teacher meeting, a doctor’s appointment or just me translating my mother’s favorite TV shows for her. If anything, I think it has brought us all closer.”
This is what pushed her to try and create her very own startup. Having already seen the difficulty the deaf community had to face to cope up with the rest of the world, Azima knew what she had to do.
I just couldn’t process that in a world so advanced, how can a small limitation become such a big hurdle. When I was in the USA, I learned about the amazing systems they had in place to help the deaf community and I knew I could play my part in creating something like that over here.
ConnectHear provides in-person as well as video-based Pakistani sign language interpretation to the deaf and mute in order to bridge the communication gap in the society. Any hearing-impaired person can avail their services and reach out to them for help.
I joined up because I believe in the steps they are taking to bring the deaf and mute community together. I hope we keep working for the betterment of all; this is a cause to work for!” said Burhan, one of the eight people behind ConnectHear.
They regularly post videos on saying phrases in Pakistani Sign Language as a part of their teaching tutorial. This is just a part of their broader plan to educate everyone about common signs. They also plan to approach other organizations working for this cause such as KFC, which recently inaugurated an outlet in Karachi that is operated by deaf people.
“Working for civic causes is a social responsibility I have towards the society. As an engineering major, I believe in problem solving through technology,” shared Areej, Co-Founder, ConnectHear.
One major challenge that they face right now is educating people that words in sign language don’t come in the same order as in a natural language. For example, “Thank you for meeting me” doesn’t necessarily mean that the signs will translate to “Thank”, “you”, “for”, “meeting”, “me”, in that exact order.
“The reason I love working with ConnectHear is how it’s bridging the gap between the disabled and the able. We have alienated them in every way of life and ConnectHear can prove to take the alienation away from the society.” added Nafay, the Graphic Designer.
Previously published: here