Meet the Doordarshan sign language interpreter who also started a cafe run by deaf people
Smriti Nagpal has founded Atulyakala, an organisation that aims at increasing employment opportunities for the deaf. She has also opened the Hearken Cafe at Shahpur Jat, where only deaf people are employed.Updated: Jun 23, 2017 19:12 IST
Chances are that you have seen her on TV. She is a sign language interpreter working tirelessly for the emancipation of people with hearing disability. Her name is Smriti Nagpal, and she is an interpreter for the news bulletin for the hearing impaired at Doordarshan.
The Delhi-based volunteer of the National Association Of Deaf (NAD) has a story that showcases a burning desire to serve the society. She learnt the sign language to communicate with her two deaf siblings.
Smriti’s encounter with a deaf artist, who couldn’t land a job despite a master’s degree, inspired her to start Atulyakala – an organisation that aims at increasing employment opportunities for the deaf by aiding their education and spreading awareness about sign language.
To avoid fund-raising struggles, Smriti decided to base Atulyakala on a ‘for profit’ model by directly connecting charitable donations to the sale of products.
For better employability, Atulyakala also opened up a lifestyle brand and design house, and a cafe in Shahpur Jat called the Hearken Café that is run by deaf employees. What started as a small scale organization now has branches in Portugal and Denmark too, and has received many prestigious awards like India AfricaYoung Visionary Fellowship and the Nelson Mandela - Graca Machel innovation award.
From being part of the 2014 Republic Day parade as the sign language interpreter (It was the first time in 64 years an interpreter was used) to Atulyakala’s collaboration with famous musicians to write songs for the deaf, the organization has come a long way and is bound to inspire and motivate people all around the globe.
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First Published: Jun 23, 2017 18:48 IST