KOCHI: To many, a physical disability means they have lost the right to lead a meaningful and successful life. The buck stops at them being disabled! However, the very issues they had to face led two hearing-impaired women to join forces and launch a company that aims to provide quality, skill-oriented education for others like them. Digital Arts Academy for the Deaf (Daad) is an edu-tech product company founded by Remya Raj, 36, and Sulu A Naushad, 25.
According to Remya, who is the CEO of Daad, the company was registered in 2018 and started using a seed fund of Rs 1 lakh granted by Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM). “Our company focuses on delivering accessible technical education to the 18 million-odd hearing impaired across India,” she said, adding many of them are under the age of 30.
“The hearing-impaired community has to cross many hurdles in order to live a full and productive life. However, not many are able to cross these hurdles. Hence, it becomes the responsibility of people like us who had the good fortune to jump through the hoops to help others,” said Remya, whose husband is also hearing impaired.
According to her, Daad is the first deaf startup in the country. “Both Remya and I had a very tough time while we were in college. The lecturers didn’t teach in sign language. So, it was difficult understanding lessons,” said Sulu, whose parents too are hearing impaired.
Startup founder: Even digital world is deaf-unfriendly
“Even the digital world is deaf-unfriendly. But it has a lot of opportunities! But a major roadblock for this is the lack of qualified educational resource specifically catering to the deaf community. We plan to bridge the divide by providing courses in IT subjects in Indian Sign Language (ISL),” she said. According to her, education programmes in ISL lower the entry barrier for hearing impaired youth, unlike any other medium.
Daad is in talks with Adobe in connection with designing courses to train hearing impaired in various applications like Photoshop and animation. “The courses are open to everyone. Students who have cleared Plus II and even those who have a job can come in and do a certificate course to make them more employable,” said Sulu.