Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Still no sign of the language of equity and inclusion


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Minority sections and Government Initiatives;

Mains level: Minority sections; National Programme for Prevention and Control of Deafness

Why in the news?

The ECI’s election announcement lacked sign language interpreters, highlighting the everyday exclusion of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) citizens.

Present Issue:

  • India’s societal and structural framework often neglects the needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) citizens.
  • This exclusion is evident in various aspects of daily life, such as the absence of sign language interpreters during major public announcements and inadequate accessibility in public services.

Sign Language versus Oralism

  • The Indian education system predominantly employs “oralism,” which emphasizes teaching deaf individuals to use their voices and lip-read, rather than using sign language.
  • This approach has been criticized for perpetuating social isolation and failing to remove barriers that hinder the integration of DHH individuals.
  • In contrast, using sign language has been shown to aid cognitive development and prevent linguistic deprivation.
  • Over 70 countries recognize their national sign languages legally, promoting accessibility and inclusion for deaf citizens.

Present Scenario:

  • As per WHO estimates in India, there are approximately 63 million people, who are suffering from Significant Auditory Impairment; this places the estimated prevalence at 6.3% in the Indian population.
  • As per the NSSO survey, currently, 291 persons per one lakh population are suffering from severe to profound hearing loss (NSSO, 2001).
  • Of these, a large percentage are children between the ages of 0 to 14 years.

What Does the 2011 Census Say?

  • The 2011 Census reported five million hearing-impaired individuals in India, while the National Association of the Deaf estimates 18 million.
  • Despite these large numbers, DHH individuals are often excluded from educational and employment opportunities. Only 5% of deaf children attend school, and they face prolonged graduation timelines due to oralist-focused curricula.
  • Government initiatives for employing the deaf are often ineffective, and there is a lack of ISL recognition, despite repeated demands and protests.

The National Programme for Prevention and Control of Deafness

    • The program was initiated in the year 2007 in pilot mode in 25 districts of 11 States/UTs. It has been expanded to other districts too after the 12th five-year plan.
    • The Program was a 100% Centrally SponsoredScheme during the 11th Five-year plan. However, as per the 12th Five Year Plan, the Centre and the States will have to pool in resources financial norms of NHRM.
    • However, it falls short of addressing the quality of life for DHH individuals. This program has been expanded to 228 districts of 27 States / U.Ts in a phased manner.

Objectives of the program:

  • To prevent avoidable hearing loss on account of disease or injury.
  • Early identification, diagnosis, and treatment of ear problems responsible for hearing loss and deafness.
  • To medically rehabilitate persons of all age groups, suffering from deafness.
  • To develop institutional capacity for ear care services by providing support for equipment and material and training personnel.

Components of the Programme: 

  • Manpower Training & Development to grassroots level workers.
  • Service Provision Including Rehabilitation – Screening camps for early detection of hearing impairment and deafness.
  • Awareness Generation for early identification of the hearing impaired.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation.

What Needs to be done?

  • Official Recognition of ISL: ISL should be recognized as an official language, and its use should be integrated into educational systems and public services. Teaching ISL in schools, colleges, and to the general public will promote inclusivity and fluency.
  • Inclusive Health Care: Health care systems need to be updated to ensure accessible communication for DHH patients. This includes training more ISL interpreters and reducing barriers for DHH individuals pursuing healthcare professions.
  • Media and Public Communication: Media channels should incorporate ISL interpretation and subtitles, especially in Hindi and regional languages. Government event announcements should have live ISL interpreters to ensure accessibility.
  • Employment Opportunities: Creating more employment opportunities for DHH individuals, beyond low-skilled jobs, is essential. This includes training and employing DHH individuals as ISL instructors and ensuring accessible workplaces.

Conclusion: To ensure inclusivity for DHH citizens, India must officially recognise ISL, integrate it into education and public services, improve healthcare accessibility, and expand employment opportunities and mental health support.

Mains PYQ:

How have digital initiatives in India contributed to the functioning of the education system in the country? Elaborate your answer. (UPSC IAS/2020)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch