The power of storytelling is not a perfect science, but it is a universal truth that stories are powerful. Their ability to transport, transfer experiences, question the status quo and meditate on issues is unparalleled. So when people from the fringes of society access this power source, it becomes the perfect way to break barriers.
Many people with disabilities have tapped into this fountain of words to break barriers. Their experiences paved the way for other people with disabilities to give voice to their stories. The goal of each and every one of their words has been inclusion. Authors like Helen Keller, Haben Girma, Alice Wong and so many others have kept their life experiences central to their writing. In doing so they liberated many people.
The Covid-19 pandemic confined people in their homes. It has been tough for everyone, but it have been extremely difficult for people with multiple disabilities, especially deafblindness. Deafblindness is a unique and complex disability where a person has a combination of hearing and vision impairment in varying degrees at once. People with deafblindness rely on touch to go about their life. Their main source of communication is through Tactile Sign Language, which means they communicate by feeling the sign with their hands. Recently, 22 persons with deafblindness around the world wrote down their experiences in the COVID-19 pandemic in a book called ‘A Glimpse of Our Covid World’ which was published by Deafblind International. Out of the 22 stories, 9 stories were of people with deafblindness from India associated with Sense International India. Stories from Shillong to Chennai were included in this book.
Maiden from Meghalaya, Shrutilata from Gujarat, Shishna from Kerala, Arihant from Tamil Nadu, Guman from Sikkim, Nikhil from Assam, Pushpa and Waqar from Delhi have their stories published in the book. When one opens the book the first story is of Maidensoben Lyngkhoi from Shillong, Meghalaya. Maiden opens up about her struggles in the pandemic and how her education has taken a hit with no schools open and poor internet connection. Shrutilata Singh, our Officer- Advocacy said, "I do wish more stories of people with deafblindness are written. Since they don't, we wrote them ourselves. These are our stories and how we braved the pandemic to survive with deafblindness." She added, "We, people with deafblindness feel proud that our stories are published for the world to feel and know how we survived in the pandemic with positivity."