Bhopal: Sign language videos on Covid vaccine for deaf and mute

BHOPAL: Umang Gaurav Welfare Society has made a series of videos in sign language to appraise the deaf-and-mute community of the various aspects of the Covid-19 vaccination drive.

The Society has produced five videos of around 2.5-minute duration each. The inputs for the videos were collected through discussion with doctors and study of the relevant guidelines. The number of persons who cannot hear and speak in the state is around 35,000 and in the city around 8,000. Of these, 4,000 to 5,000 know sign language.

The videos seek to answer almost all queries that may come to one’s mind in easy-to-understand words. “We have tried to answer the questions received from the members of the community through video calls,” says Deepti Patwa, director of the Society, which has been working among the differently-abled in the city for 16 years.

One of the videos tells the viewers what vaccines are and how they work. It explains how vaccines have freed the world from the scourge of smallpox, polio and many other diseases. “Scientists and doctors first study physiology and the anatomy of the organism that causes the disease. Then, that organism - dead or alive - or a part of it, is used to make vaccines,” it says. The video also explains what antibodies and memory cells are and how vaccines protect the body from contracting a disease.

Other videos explain that two vaccines called Covishield and Covaxin are available in India. Both are manufactured in the country and are equally effective.

The videos say that those who are currently infected with the virus or were corona positive in the recent past or were given plasma therapy or were hospitalised due to some serious ailment should wait for a couple of months before getting the shots.

“Will getting the jabs affect my sexual life?,” another video asks and goes on to answer that vaccination can only better one’s sexual life by freeing one from the fear of acquiring the disease.

They also say that the vaccinated persons must not have drinks for at least 45 days and also that ‘drinking is anyway a bad thing to do’. The videos also say that the vaccinated persons would have to continue wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and washing hands frequently. They say that lactating mothers and pregnant women must not get the shots.

The objective is to answer the queries of the deaf-and-mute persons about vaccination, remove their apprehensions and misconceptions and persuade them to take the vaccine, says Patwa.

“Even normal persons have all kinds of questions and wrong notions about vaccination, which is leading to vaccine hesitancy. As such, the deaf-and-mute persons are even more likely to be unaware of the right facts and the correct information, especially since many of them are illiterate,” she says.

Patwa said they had produced videos in sign language during the first wave of the pandemic, too. They were focused on the corona-protection norms and lockdown guidelines. “We had produced those videos at the instance of the Disabled Persons Welfare Department of the state government. But this time, we have made them on our initiative,” she says.

The videos feature Patwa with a voice over by Preeti Rao. Ashish Godan, Akshit Patwa and Ajay Sharma have handled the editing work.

Patwa said that now they are receiving queries regarding the Black Fungus disease. “We would try to produce videos on it also,” she said. She also plans to produce videos on the government schemes meant for the welfare of the families of persons who have died of Covid.

Patwa says that like any other language, sign language is also ever-evolving and as new words come into use, they are added to it. “There were no words for Covid, steroids and black fungus in the sign language,” she says.

According to her, the Indian Sign Language Association standardises sign language. “New words and the signs for them are incorporated into the language by experts,” Patwa says.

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