ConnectHear is the vision of three young leaders and activists from Pakistan. They use the very thing that “intimidates” most people as a way to empower the hearing-impaired individuals and as a purpose to bridge the communication gap between the deaf community and the society and bring them together as one. Their soon-to-be-released tech gives the idea of using sign language interpretation services to spread awareness and bring forth initiatives that allow hearing-impaired individuals to be a part of this society respectfully—that are otherwise believed to be “disabled” in the eyes of hearing individuals only.
There are approximately 10 million hearing-impaired individuals living in Pakistan alone. The deaf community embraces a vibrant and extraordinarily wholehearted bunch of individuals who are normal people like you and I but unfortunately, has been particularly marginalised by the mainstream hearing general public.
Life is not fair to them nor does society makes it easy for them. The deaf community bears the wounds of diurnal discrimination and oppression that otherwise we, as a privileged entity, do not have to face in our everyday lives. For them, there is a constraint to a heap of opportunities because the general public does not endeavour for inclusion in the workplace or as a society on the whole. They have faced generations upon generations of systematic discrimination that continues on to this day. The connection between the hearing and hearing-impaired community is often strained due to the pounding lack of understanding and applicability of the challenges that are faced by the deaf individuals and their values and justices to fundamental human necessitates, and the following dictatorial perspective of hearing people in knowing what is “best” for the “disabled”; forming policies, opinions, social paradigms and barriers for the deaf individuals without their respective input. Using singular words like “mute”, “dumb” and “disabled” to refer to them, almost as if to put them together as one person, neglect them as human beings, demean them as someone who is below them rather than equal, and insinuate to the world that they are all one in the same; they think the same, live the same and act the same, when it is nothing like that at all.
We never find ourselves stopping and thinking: “How many artists exactly are inside deaf people? How many engineers, doctors, singers, poets, writers or lawyers?”. No roles on television, no home for them in the music industry, no access to basic human necessities or respect as individuals in the society. They are trapped in a vacuum, stuck behind following the shadows of “normal” people because no one took the time of their day or an advancement to get to personally know them or provide them with opportunities and resources they needed to become what they are born to be.
That is the reason why Azima, Arhum, and Areej, the creators that are a trio of persistence, have towered with a purpose to make a difference in the lives of the deaf community and take an initiative that would lead Pakistan towards social sentience and progression in every sense; promote inclusivity in workplaces and our day-to-day lives.
Their story needs to be known. We are the youth and as someone who is privileged enough to not face similar challenges like the deaf community does, it is our duty to take small yet firm steps for the betterment of the society and to a society where everyone feels welcome. And ConnectHear hopes to do just that.