CHENNAI: Entering a classroom and interacting with kids is the one thing I can never get tired of,” says Ida Mercy. Coming from a family of teachers, Mercy never really aspired to be one, during her childhood. But after joining the YMCA Kamak School for the Hearing Impaired, Madurai, in 1990 as a Social Science teacher, her views changed and there has been no looking back since then. Apart from becoming the finest teacher in the school, she has also managed to befriend and inspire hundreds of kids with hearing impairments in the city, with her kindness and teaching skills.
The 55-year-old who never ceases to enjoy her job, says, “Our children (with hearing impairments) are special and different from the regular kids. From asking whether I have eaten breakfast to offering a polite compliment on my sari, they are affectionate and adorable. Over the years, they have not only taught me valuable life lessons, but also helped me become a better teacher.”
Teaching has changed her life in unexpected ways. “I used to be shy and an introvert before I joined here. Life took a U-turn when I started compering for school events. I became outgoing and started sharing my ideas with everyone,” she says.
She also regularly visits some of the schools and colleges in the city, to create awareness about how the lives of children with disabilities are different from the rest. “While some children are good in academics, some are good in sports, art and crafts, music/dance. We have to identify their talents and help them pursue it. The government should give them more concessions — in education and employment. The private sector should also stop refraining from hiring them for mainstream jobs. If possible, they can also be kept out of the caste reservation system and be enrolled into educational institutions, based on merit.”
Mercy also feels that framing of a united sign language in India is not possible due to the existence of multiple languages. “Now, we don’t feel the need to have a global or a national sign language. In future, it might be framed and more people may learn it. When it comes to hearing aids and other teaching equipment to facilitate these kids, I think there has been a good improvement in the past 30 years. We welcome technology in education, with our hands and mind open,” she says.
After completing her Bachelors and Masters degree in History, and her B.Ed, Mercy joined the school as a Social Science teacher for class 8. In a few years, she also underwent training in special education, in Chennai.