Hearing loss changemaker Srivatsan Sankaran

Srivatsan Sankaran Travel Photographer India

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“Life revealed itself when my fear of not fitting the definition of normal could not hold me back any longer.

Hi, I’m Srivatsan Sankaran. I’m a Chennai-based travel photographer and Founder of Madras Photo Bloggers. I’m also influencer of the Sony brand, Alpha Cameras. I love travel photography. I love to teach photography to kids with and without hearing loss.

My story started when I was diagnosed with complete hearing loss at the age of 6 – and also developed a lisp. I was very determined and bold in those early days. I ensured my mom that I would manage without hearing aids, but as time passed by, it became difficult. My education was compromised. So I was fitted with a hearing aid at the age of 10, but due to my added condition with the lisp, I was denied good education at reputable schools. I was forced to study in a school with poor quality of education.

Wearing hearing aids added an additional barrier to my daily life. I was teased by fellow students. I would cry in hiding and never had a friend who would understand me. So I spent all my childhood with my grandmother who encouraged me and supported me to become the best version of myself. I overcame all the existing barriers, became an engineer, and started working for an IT firm, where all the daily life challenges confronted me. It was difficult for me to comprehend a conversation.

I would not understand people unless they spoke at a slower pace. I couldn’t cope and no one understood what I was going through. I lost myself in the fast moving crowd. I had lost purpose and I didn’t know how to move ahead in life. Being mocked by people, being stigmatized on a daily basis, being portrayed as a burden all my life.

I picked up the camera and for the first time in my life, the silence felt peaceful. The silence which haunted me all through my life felt peaceful all of a sudden. I quit my job and started traveling. Travel gave me a purpose and the camera gave me peace to enjoy the silence.

During these traveling ventures, I was exposed to sign language. I learnt sign language and I could indulge better in communication. I started my own organization, Madras Photo Bloggers, where I could teach photography to kids with and without hearing loss. Teaching in sign language has provided me with an extra purpose in life. I endure the silent communication, the joy, the laughter, the excitement that tickles my students when they capture the best shot.

Interventions do not only include hearing aids and access to sign language and therapy – but also society as a component of intervention to shape each and everyone’s life. I, being a person with hearing impairment, was given a lot of challenges, experiences, and reflections by society. As payback, I am doing my best to empower other kids with hearing impairment. I envision to do more for this community. But society needs to be more aware and equipped to act in the right way to any person with or without a challenging condition.

I am doing my part by sharing my story, so that no other Srivatsan has to cry in hiding – and has a purpose to be here. Hearing for all. Life beyond hearing loss is possible.”

Srivatsan Sankaran is a Changemaker who supports the call in the World Report on Hearing for hearing care for all, now. Help change the world for those with hearing loss by sharing his story.