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Art support

Differently-abled students might find it difficult to learn languages and other theory-intensive subjects. Discovering their creative potential then gives them a unique sense of self-fulfilment reports Vimal Chander Joshi

education Updated: Jun 16, 2010 09:27 IST
Vimal Chander Joshi

After finishing school, Ritu, a hearing-impaired student, didn’t want to go in for any theory-intensive subjects. More focused on getting a job and becoming self-reliant, she applied for a diploma programme in fine arts at the College of Art, Delhi. It’s a course that’s tailor-made for hearing-impaired students, who are taught only practical subjects along with other students.

When asked about the differently abled students in the college, Prof M Vijaymohan, principal, says “We admit one student in each specialisation – painting, sculpture, applied art, printmaking and visual communication at the undergraduate level. In all four years, the number of hearing and speech-impaired students total 20. They are the source of inspiration for others.”

Do the students face a problem in classes communicating with teachers who don’t understand sign language? “Teaching them through sign language is not necessary. There is just one disabled student in a class of 40 students and s/he can easily figure out what’s going on. Moreover, they don’t have to sit for the theory papers. They are meant to pass only practical exams,” says Vijaymohan.

Proudly pointing at a beautiful painting on the wall, the College of Art head says, “This is one of the paintings made by a hearing-impaired artist and alumna of the college, Simran Khurana. She has made several large canvases. I’ve found that students like her can work with deep concentration and focus.”

Khurana, who completed her postgraduate diploma in fine arts, recently put up a solo exhibition at the Habitat Centre’s Visual Art Gallery. “The exhibition was curated by Alka Pandey and Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit was a special guest. Four paintings were sold to art lovers who happily paid a reasonably good price for her work,” says Renu Khurana, Simran's mother.

The young artist’s creative streak was spotted at very young age of nine when she used to attend dancing and painting classes. Though she learnt bharatanatyam under the tutelage of Yamini Krishnamurthy, her mother decided she should study painting as dancing would need coordination with music, something which might not be easy for a person with hearing impairment.

Other hearing-impaired art students can learn from Khurana’s example, provided they show the same zeal and interest in painting. “Though Simran was not supposed to study theory, she took tuitions to learn more about the history of painting from a history teacher. She also watched hundreds of art movies in these six years of study (undergraduate and post graduate diplomas),” says Renu. “Watching the History Channel has helped, and her cousins too keep getting CDs for her from abroad. Some time ago, when we went to Hong Kong, she insisted on visiting the Hong Kong Museum of Art where she spent a long time reading about famous Chinese artists," Renu adds.

Special provisions
Every college and university has three per cent seats reserved for differently-abled students. Besides that mandatory three per cent, College of Art, Delhi, has a special provision which allows hearing- and speech-impaired students to apply for a diploma programme in fine arts (equivalent to BFA) with regular students.

They are not required to write the theory tests. Which is why, they get a diploma on the culmination of the four-year programmes while others get a BFA degree