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“I want to continue in sports and also take up a job since my family has been bearing all my expenses so far”

When Amisha Prakash (22) from Patna steps out of her house and walks around in the neighbourhood, people she encounters call her “champion”. But she can’t hear them. She was born with deafness.
Amisha lives in a joint family with her father Ved Prakash (52), mother Sunita Prakash (50), brother Vivek (24), grandmother Vimla Devi (80) and Ved’s lawyer brother who has two children. It was only when Amisha was one-and-a-half years old that her parents suspected that she couldn’t hear, since she wasn’t responding to voice commands. Doctors recommended hearing aids for both ears.
Amisha went to Samarpan Special School, which is primarily meant for children with intellectual disabilities. She learnt Sign Language and was provided with subsidised hearing aids (“worth ₹11,000 but we got it for ₹5,000”). Ved does not think she benefitted much from hearing aids and says she is more at ease with Sign and lip-reading. The family did not learn Sign but developed their own code to communicate with her.
In school, she was good at sports. Samarpan suggested she be groomed in this field, and put her in touch with Sandeep Kumar (whose gymnastic prowess we highlighted in EGS), Secretary of the Paralympic Committee of Bihar and Sports Director of Special Olympics Bharat Bihar. Encouraged by Sandeep and with the wholehearted support of her family, she left school after eighth standard in order to plunge into sports full time. She joined Sandeep’s Academy of Gymnastics and the Special Olympics Bharat academy. One of the teachers from her school started to come home to teach her. 
Amisha’s sporting successes have been multiplying over the past decade. She explored various forms of sport including racing and football. From playing at the state level and winning recognition and cash awards from the Bihar government, she progressed to the national and then international level. In 2020 she won gold medals in the 100m and 200m races at the 15th National Para Athletics Championships held in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, and followed this up in 2023 at the 18th national championships with gold in the 100m race. Unified sports is a category where persons with and without disabilities play together. In August 2022 Amisha was part of the Indian football team that won a bronze at the Special Olympics Unified Cup in Detroit. At the six-day Purple Fest Goa last month she won a bronze medal.
Sports practice is central to Amisha’s life. She’s up at 4.30 a.m. every day to leave for the academy. In the beginning she used to cycle and her father would accompany her, but as she grew more independent she got a two-wheeler. She uses the rear-view mirrors as her guide since she cannot hear traffic behind her. At the academy she is also coaching and mentoring other students with disabilities. “She is seen as an inspirational figure,” Ved says proudly. She is close to her uncle and makes it a point to have dinner with him when she returns.
Ved, who used to run a dairy business, gave it up to focus completely on his daughter, and his family now lives on income from rent. “Since most of my expenses are borne by the family I want to take up a job to contribute my bit,” Amisha conveys to us. “I also want to continue in sports. Maybe I will think about marriage after I turn 28.”
The family has come a long way from their initial disappointment at having a deaf child. “We moved from dejection to acceptance to seeing her as the honour and pride of our family,” says Ved.


Vicky Roy