Deaf on the lifeline of Mumbai

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20 Citations (Scopus)


This study revealed that deaf people in Mumbai tend to travel in newly-established train compartments that are reserved for people with disabilities. This article explores the reasons they do so and sheds light on several sociocultural consequences of this practice. Deaf people travel in these compartments because the general train compartments are too crowded to use sign language, in contrast to the compartments for people with disabilities. Hence these compartments became important meeting places, strengthening links in the Mumbai deaf community. In addition, the visibility of signing deaf groups in the compartments and on the train platforms has caused a growth in deaf awareness among hearing people in these ‘disabled’ compartments in particular and at the train stations in general. This research thus tells us something about how deaf people use public space in which deaf minority culture is not oppressed by or subjugated to the hearing majority. It is because of Mumbai’s peninsular geography, its resulting population density and the heavy use of two suburban train lines unique for this city, that these several different effects were strongly spread amongst both the deaf community and among hearing people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-68
Number of pages33
JournalSign Language Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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