Devangi Dalal, an Indian trained audiologist and speech therapist, has dedicated her career to improving the quality of life of hearing impaired children in India. She has 20 years of experience in pediatric hearing aid consultation and rehabilitation and has spent endless hours promoting hearing awareness in India. Her primary mission is to make Indian people realize that “a hearing handicap is no longer a handicap.”
She has provided free hearing services (and new digital hearing aids) to children in special schools for the deaf, mobilized the press and media to highlight the capabilities of hearing impaired children, and lobbied bureaucrats, politicians and nongovernment organizations (NGOs) to provide hearing-impaired children in India with the same privileges as hearing impaired children in Europe and the United States.
In 2004, Mrs. Dalal established the Juvenile Organization of Speech and Hearing (JOSH), an NGO whose purpose is to create awareness, educate, and empower hearing-impaired children. The organization began with 50 members and now has over 400 members and supporters. JOSH offers counseling and guidance to the student members and shares success stories of all the student members on their Web site.
In 2006, Mrs. Dalal adopted a special (deaf) school in Mumbai, which at the time lacked knowledge of hearing and hearing aids. She introduced the school to celebrities and NGOs to convince them to donate hearing aids. Working on behalf of one child at a time, Mrs. Dalal successfully obtained new binaural hearing aids for all 80 children in the school. She personally fit all the children gratis and encouraged each child to reach for their best through various innovative activities. As a result many of these children have been mainstreamed into normal schools and are getting involved in dance, singing and music activities.
Over the last decade, Mrs. Dalal has provided 550 new digitals hearing aids to low-income children in the Mumbai region of India. To highlight awareness of hearing and hearing loss in her country she has authored books in regional languages (e.g., Gujarati and Hindi) and distributed them free of charge to all the students and teachers in the special schools. She published the article, “Success Stories of Hearing-Impaired Children” in 2010, and continues to write articles in local and regional newspapers. She also gives lectures/seminars to various NGOs in an effort to raise awareness of the technological solutions that are available to overcome the limitations of hearing loss and to emphasize the importance of early identification and proper amplification.
Mrs. Dalal worked with the Chief Minister of Gujarat to persuade the Indian government to improve the conditions of government run special schools, which will impact over 5,000 children. Mrs. Dalal’s enthusiasm and passion for her work is inspiring and is why she has been so successful in securing funds to benefit hearing impaired children in India. Mrs. Dalal’s exceptional humanitarian work with the hearing-impaired children has been life changing for many children and is clearly deserving of the Academy’s Humanitarian Award.