Duraiswamy Suresh has been roped in by the Tamil Nadu Election Commission to reach out to speech-and-hearing-impaired voters
Duraiswamy Suresh is a go-to person, this season. A science teacher at CSI Higher Secondary School for the Deaf at Santhome, 48-year-old Duraiswamy is sought by government departments for his proficiency in sign-language.
His latest client is the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission, which has tasked him with creating awareness on voting among speech-and-hearing-impaired voters.
At a recent press conference chaired by the Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Satyaprakash Sahoo, the spotlight found Duraiswamy, as he interpreted the official’s speech. His interpretations were being captured by television crews for the benefit of their differently-abled audience.
“For many years, I have been the official interpreter at the Monday grievance meeting at the Chennai Collectorate office where I help speech-and-hearing-impaired visitors to air their grievances. In most cases, they get immediate relief and that gives me immense joy,” says Suresh, who has been a science teacher at the CSI Higher Secondary School for the Deaf for two decades.
On how Suresh became a sought-after sign language interpreter, he was invited by the Periamet police on Raja Muthiah Road to help them solve a theft case that involved a speech-and-hearing-impaired person.
Suresh recalls how he was taken to the lock-up and asked to engage with the culprit. The police tried unsuccessfully to get the culprit to reveal the details of the theft of stolen cables used as ducts in the air-conditioned train coaches at the Central railway station. “I spent the next 24 hours in the lock-up helping the suspect reveal the cables’ whereabouts. After 16 diversion attempts, the suspect revealed that he had sold the cables to an electrical shop,” he says.
Since then, Suresh is a familiar face at the police station, being invited regularly, to attend court proceedings in the sub-courts at Egmore, Saidapet, Allikulam and Alandur.
Suresh, a first-generation learner, spent much of his childhood at Adikarapatti village in Thiruvallur district before moving to his uncle’s home at Thiruvallur town at age eleven for better educational prospects. His father, C. Duraiswamy, was a farmer. Suresh completed his post graduation from the University of Madras in the late-1990s before enrolling himself as Senior Diploma Teacher for the Deaf. Subsequently, Suresh joined the CSI Higher Secondary School for the Deaf at Santhome.