India's lockdown hits hearing-impaired hard



© OscarEspinosa - iStock May 22: Kochi, Kerala under lockdown conditions.

India's coronavirus lockdown has made life especially tough for the country's hearing-impaired population, with 24/7 helplines in the state of Kerala flooded with distress calls.

With repair shops closed, and batteries hard to find, thousands of people with hearing loss in Kerala have been left in the lurch, reports the English-langage daily The New Indian Express. The newspaper quotes the story of a 44-year-old drugstore worker from the city of Kochi who was left for two weeks without the use of her hearing aids because she ran out of batteries and could find no replacements.

An official of the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) told The Express that persons with disabilities are the most vulnerable during disasters: “Especially during a pandemic situation like this, the issues faced by people with special needs should be addressed with utmost priority. We have noticed that people with disabilities especially the deaf community are the worst hit by the lockdown.”

India's National Institute of Speech and Hearing (NISH) was asked to step in. It has done so, mapping private vendors selling batteries in each district to assist those in need, and having the batteries delivered. A 2015 disability census registered some 60,925 hearing-impaired persons in the state of Kerala.

Source: The New Indian Express