The SDA School for Speech and Hearing Impaired (ISHI) was established in Kamagere in June 1994. The school was relocated to a new facility in Kollegal in August 2002 which is its present location. The locale supports a small community of about 52,000 people. The ISHI School is the only special school for the speech and hearing impaired in this district and as such is a vital resource for the local community.
When you enter the gates of the Kollegal School for Speech and Hearing Impaired, you are welcomed to a world of silence. It is not an empty silence of the technology-driven world where people in a room are glued to their screens, it is a silence filled with hope.
For 23 years, the school has provided a nurturing home to over 180 students. Here, in this one acre of a space where the main mode of communication is gestures and a language of movements, young boys and girls have grown to be sensible and educated young men and women. The children are given all-round training from UKG to 10th standard and taught various subjects by trained teachers. The school is currently under the care of the Principal Jacob Bhaggien and his wife who have been with the children since 2009.
In the school, you will often find 3 to 5 children gathered in the corners or resting idly on the steps to communicate about their experiences and stories of the day. The young ones have never heard a beat of music in their life but they can move better than the music. A hardworking lot, you will find them up from early hours attending to their duties of cleaning and gardening aside from the usual study and playtimes.
ISHI is one school where the students look forward to the school days rather than the holidays. If you ask the children what they do in the holidays, many of them will tell you how they count the days till they are back in school. Not as a result of negativity at home but rather because the school is where they have a voice, it is a place where they are understood, where they can be individuals of their own, a place where they can be heard.
Currently there are 87 students attending the school, 81 Boarding students and 6 Day students from the local community. 60 students are studying from Lower Kindergarten to grade 9, 22 students in the 10th Standard (Karnataka State Board Secondary Leaving Certificate [SSLC]) and 5 students are enrolled in the ITI program and Vocational training course in Bangalore and Mysore. As the school is predominantly a boarding facility, they currently only accept students over four years of age into the Lower Kindergarten (LKG) class.