June 6, 2023

Nita Gopalkrishnan insists growing up with hearing impaired parents was different and not difficult.

Meet a mother who comes from a different background. The best part is that she has not only extended her learning’s of childhood into adulthood but also made it into her work sphere.

Nita and her older brother were born into hearing impaired parents and the very first language she learnt was the sign language. Today along with her husband she runs a company and a platform that caters to hearing impaired community.

Nita shares with Mums and Stories, “As a child of deaf adults, I grew up in the deaf community. Sign language is naturally my native and primary language. After graduation, while working in mainstream organizations, my affection towards the community eventually lured me back to contribute in this eco-system. I felt the deaf community can benefit in a significant manner if I employed the skills, I picked up growing up with deaf parents and from working for corporates.

As a community, the deaf lack access and information that we, people who can hear, take for granted. I felt it was my calling to connect both these worlds and make it an equal playing field.”

Nita Gopalkrishnan from Yunikee with her parents

Talking about her parents she shares, “My parents are intelligent as any hearing couple trying to bring up a child in this world. Yes – They are extra special to me as they had to bring up a two hearing children (my older brother and me), fighting the odds and challenges of communication. Their determination to live their life’s dreams and give the best of the education and life skills to their children is a matter to be proud of. All this achievement in times where access to communication was a challenge. Today, we have avenues and support groups to talk about accessibility. This was not the case 40 years ago. If you are deaf, you are pretty much the one trying to find ways and putting in the maximum effort to communicate in the hearing community. Yet, my parents never let this overwhelm them. They found ways to ensure good education, healthcare and lifestyle for me.

Also, I did not think of my childhood as difficult, but different Yes. Once I was able to speak and communicate with others, my parents relied on us to bridge the communicate with the rest of the world. I had to be the interpreter, negotiator, communicator and even a counsellor at times, many times at a very young age.”

 Nita says, “95% of deaf children are born from hearing parents. To them – my request is to explore sign language as a communication option along with opting for any medical interventions (assistive devices) like a hearing aid or implants. The key goal should be – giving your child a strong first language and communication skills. This sound foundation will set them up for growth and success. Reach out to other deaf people in the community and create an environment of communication for your deaf child. Your deaf child can do anything given the strong foundation you set up for them. My suggestion for  deaf parents who have hearing children – The initial years of raising your child will be challenging but taking guidance from experienced deaf parents or friends and family will help you sail through that phase. Ensure you have a way to communicate with your child. Parenting is hard for anyone. Keeping the channels of communication open, honest and loving is the key.”

Nita talking about her company shares, “ At Yunikee, we create content in sign language, with the goal of making education, information and entertainment accessible to over 18 million deaf people in the country. Our products like Sign Channel & Sign Medium are designed to ensure reaching these goals. You can reach us through our email ID info.Yunikee@gmail.com or visit our website Yunikee.com. “

Being a mom of two young kids she says, “My family is the biggest support for me to be able to pursue my passion and career, including my kids. Being a friend to all my family members and especially my kids had helped in talking openly about the work I do, the purpose of it and its demands. Work-life balance is a task that needs to constantly be worked on, and I try to do it as best as I can.

 I have realized that having a clear schedule around time for home and for work and sticking to it, helps in keeping the balance.

Managing family and work is a big responsibility, which I enjoy taking on only because of the constant support and inspiration of my husband and parents. My husband is my friend and partner both at home and work, so our goals and vision of working for the deaf community is aligned.”

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