Not everyone who appears to be a personification of perfection really is so. In fact, every being on this planet has an ability that sets him apart from the others. And even the ones who look unfit apparently are blessed with talents that the completely abled ones might be lacking. Hence, it’s safe to say that every person is different and talented in his or her own way.
Such is the lesson I’ve learned in life so far, and it’s great to see that this message is spreading further with great eminence. Having studied in school without the ability to hear and speak, I had my apprehensions about being ostracized. And, a while ago as well, I was concerned about people like me being given the cold shoulder by the other students who look down upon the differently abled ones.
However, I rose through the biases and went on to secure brilliant grades. Not to mention, I participated in physical activity as well and, gladly, excelled in this arena too, alongside successfully completing the ‘Empower to Cook’ course. Nonetheless, the most prominent achievement I have bagged remains being the First deaf Microsoft Certified Associate and author of the book The Language of Paradise in Pakistan.
Quite often, I visit different people of the community working for the deaf and just recently I met Ms. Azima Dhanjee. Indeed, it feels great to see more people coming forward with the same pursuit as mine. She is the pioneer of one of the leading platforms for the deaf people in Pakistan named ConnectHear. She works to empower the deaf and break their communication barriers down.
While conversing with her in an informal meeting, I found that the lady herself, Ms. Dhanjee, has a touching story which has been the cornerstone of ConnectHear’s emergence. She has been raised by deaf parents and she felt that people like them aren’t given enough opportunities. Although, they were fit to live a complete life, communication was an issue for them. Ms. Dhanjee’s parents had to depend on their children for communication.
She felt that such a situation called for a technological breakthrough to help the deaf communicate with more ease. And, when she didn’t find help from automation, she decided to step forward and take this responsibility on her shoulders only. With this aim, she set herself on a profound journey with her two high school friends Arhum and Areej.
She went to the Nest I/O and shared her idea with Jehan Ara who played a vital role in Ms. Dhanjee’s mission. She was extremely supportive and provided them with a space to advance through their agenda.
Their work began with only a Facebook page. To their surprise, this online platform received much appreciation from the deaf and hearing community as well. The team of ConnectHear was asked to interpret a concert for the Strings Band, which was then also covered by Forbes. Furthermore, they worked with Geo News for live election transmission and went on to cross more milestones on their way.
The team realized that the deaf community couldn’t understand the news without an interpreter. And, during COVID-19 times, when news channels were a significant means of communication, something had to be done. Hence, ConnectHear created a news channel of their own where they would upload news in sign language and keep the deaf community updated.
Once the operations at ConnectHear got weaving, the first call came. It was from a deaf person in Gujranwala who wanted to get a debit card but couldn’t communicate with the bank manager. He asked the team to interpret the message over WhatsApp video call. It was then that ConnectHear’s team realized that it was important to keep innovating the tele-interpretation for the deaf community.
Following the launch of ConnectHear application, the deaf community got equipped with a means that provided instant and remote interpretation for job interviews, bank, hospital, family related matters, and so much more. Today, the application shows a marked impact in the lives of the deaf community as the co-founders of ConnectHear, Ms. Dhanjee and Mr. Arhum show optimism on the fact that it will grow to aid thousands of lives from now.
With their efforts, indeed, we will see Pakistan’s deaf community have their quality of life enhanced massively and experience a tremendous change towards betterment. They invite you all to join them in this mission and make Pakistan a deaf-inclusive nation.