“Like Magic” — Texting Helps Deaf, Mute Children

"They are So Empowered Now - So Happy"

Classes at Pingalwara, in the Indian city of Armitsar, Punjab, are usually pretty quiet, but that doesn't mean the students aren't communicating in a very modern way.

The students are all orphans, deaf and mute, so they communicate in sign language.

However, the introduction of modern technology has changed things in a very profound way.

When doctor Nilima Sabharwal, who is from India but works in San Jose, met the teenagers, she came up with an idea.

Her charitable organization, called Home of Hope, found a new way for the students to chat -- the same way just about every teenager does it -- through their phone.

"They were withdrawn -- very shy, very introverted," said Sabharwal. "So now what they're doing is texting each other through cell phones  -- and they are so excited about it."
Home of Hope got a small number of cell phones into the hands of the students. The results were immediate. They suddenly had a world of friends to reach out to - far beyond the school's walls.

"It's like, here, children take it for granted," said Sabharwal. "They do text messaging for fun. But these kids, that's their method of communication.

Now, Home of Hope is searching for more phones to accommodate the massive number of children who might benefit from texting the world.

"It's amazing what I saw," said Sabharwal. "(These) kids (are) so empowered now, so happy. I don't know what happened to them. It's like magic. It is technology and (it is) doing wonders."

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