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  • Writer's pictureReshma Jain

Miss Deaf Asia 2018

Everyone faces challenges in life. We have two options; either we surrender before the challenge or face it head-on. For Nishtha Dudeja, who has faced difficulties in life with grit and determination, it has been a journey of struggles from the day of diagnosis of her hearing loss to learning how to speak through rigorous sessions of speech therapy and finally completing her graduation in Commerce from Sri Venkateswara College, Delhi University.

Despite the odds, Nishtha Dudeja stands as an exemplary woman who has made India proud. We bring to you the story of this Indian model and the winner of the Miss Deaf Asia 2018 Title. Dudeja is the first representative from India to win any title at Miss and Master Deaf World pageant since its inception.

As a child, Dudeja was sent to a regular school on the advice of her speech therapist. The children in the school were not sensitive and would tease her for wearing hearing aids. But Dudeja’s parents had mentally prepared her to face such situations. When she reached college, her classmates were quite sensitive and she had a lot of fun in college, she reminisced. As a Judo player and a Tennis player, she faced some problems as sometimes she was not able to understand the instructions of her coach but her parents would guide her in such situations. Bravo! she won many medals in both Judo and Tennis. Moreover, she also represented India thrice in international games.

On being asked what can be done to provide opportunities to people with disabilities, Dudeja said, “The Government of India has initiated many schemes for providing opportunities to the persons with disabilities. For example, there are reservations in higher education as well as in jobs for such people. However, a lot is yet to be done as there is a lack of awareness among people. Many times, even the health authorities are not aware that people with hearing impairment using hearing aids or cochlear implants are eligible for such benefits and they refuse to issue disability certificates. Those hearing-impaired who can hear with the help of hearing instruments are eligible to get a driving license, which is much needed to make them independent. We as citizens have an important role to play to create awareness and to empathize with such people.”

Dudeja feels that early identification of disabilities, their technological solutions, and awareness about such medical/ technological advancements can go a long way in empowering persons with disabilities. Moreover, the affordability of such technological solutions is the key to their timely rehabilitation and empowerment.

Reminiscing about winning the title a few years ago, Dudeja said, “When it was my first day of Miss Deaf World’s journey in Prague, I saw everyone communicating with the help of sign language. Since I was not fluent in sign language, I was not able to communicate. But I learnt some ASL in 1-2 days and I was able to communicate better with them. However, I was nervous because the beginning had not been great.”

She further added, “But on the night of the finale, I thought and decided to give my best and leave the rest to God. There was intense competition among the participants from across the globe. And when the announcement was made, I was on cloud nine after bagging the title.”

“I would like to create awareness among differently-abled children and their parents about the issues faced by such children and the technological solutions available to mitigate these problems,” concluded Dudeja.

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