Deaf South Asian Americans: Madan’s Story

madanvasishtaMadan Vasishta is a scholar of Deaf Education who splits his time between Washington, DC and Delhi, India. Born and brought up in northern India, Madan became deaf at age 11 and had not met another deaf person until he was 20! After moving to the US and dedicating a career to improving Deaf Education in the US, he has also worked tirelessly to improve Deaf Education in India. Currently he serves as the Director of the Indian Sign Language Research & Training Centre (ISLRTC) at the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). The Center’s goals are to develop programs in Indian Sign Language, Interpreting, Deaf Education and Sign Language Teaching.

This is another video in a series of stories I’m collecting, documenting the experiences of the Deaf South Asian American community in Washington, DC. These stories are a part of the permanent collection with the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA). While these experiences do not represent the entire community, they certainly offer some insight. We chatted last November, at Gallaudet University’s Linguistics Department.

In this video, Madan talks about the movements that need to occur before we can hope to see revolutionary changes for deaf people in India. He talks about mandating that the Indian government recognize Indian Sign Language as one of the official languages of India, requiring professors at IGNOU to be fluent in ISL and use it in the classroom, and advocate for more professional opportunities for deaf Indians. He talks more about this in this segment of the interview.

Check out Madan’s story:

Madan’s bio:

Madan M. Vasishta was born India and became deaf at the age of 11. He worked as a farmer for next 10 years and moved to Delhi in 1961 where he met deaf people and learned to sign. Vasishta taught photography in India and worked with the All India Federation of the Deaf before coming to Gallaudet in 1967.  He got his three degrees from Gallaudet and later worked as a teacher, researcher and administrator in various schools for the deaf. Vasishta retired from New Mexico School for the Deaf as its superintendent in 2000.

He has authored five books, scores of articles and book chapters and has made presentation nationally and internationally.

At present, Vasishta divides his time between teaching at Gallaudet and working on various deafness-related projects in India. He is working as the Chief Advisor of Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre in New Delhi.

**Special thanks to: Wanette Reynolds, Frank Griffin, Stephanie Durand, and Amber Marchut for their help with this project!