Smriti was born in a family, with two elder siblings who are deaf and mute. Sign Language became an integral part of her life. She started interpreting for NGO's and corporates at the age of 16. During her 2nd year of graduation she joined the National Channel and became the youngest news reader for hearing impaired bulletin. She is doing this for 5 years. One day she met an artist who was deaf, and he told her that he has done masters in fine arts but work in an NGO as a manual labourer. She then went back and did her research on deaf artists in India. India has the largest population of the deaf, but the education required for deaf people is almost non-existent. So many of them choose art and creative fields for their majors. But they face much discrimination and no proper jobs despite of degrees in the required field. This became her mission, to showcase deaf creative people as how they deserve. A more inclusive space, and spread the awareness about and Indian Sign Language.
Smriti wished to create a creative culture which explores, represents and celebrates the Deaf Culture of India. Atulyakala strive to provide a better work environment and a safe space for Deaf artists to illustrate their skills through various media - to live a life with dignity and pride.
The objective was to create an enterprise which is sign language friendly and is catering to the urban market. She wanted to keep this separated from a charity run organization and prove the point that sustainable model can easily be managed by deaf people. Another big objective was to spread awareness about the Indian Sign Language. Atulyakala is a socially responsible brand with a mission to empower Deaf artists in India.
HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED
Atulyakala is now a 2.5 year old social enterprise based in New Delhi, with 70% of the staff from deaf community and 100% sign language users in the organization. They have deaf artists who work as designers and design art and then those artwork goes on products which they cater to the urban market. They also undertake design client projects where the deaf employees directly deal with the clients and complete the task.
Atulyakala uses signs from the Indian sign language and design them on their product to spread awareness. They have conducted several successful events and projects for spreading sign language awareness.
Atulyakala has received much recognition and love from people.
They have been successful in providing alternative career opportunities to creative deaf people and help them start their own ventures. They also conduct workshops for the deaf community to keep them at par with the current requirement and need of the world.
1. A pocket guide for Indian Sign Language.
2. Products that uses signs as design and are catering to the urban market.
3. First ever social enterprise for deaf artist in India.
4. Google Doodle done in Indian Sign Language by Atulyakala.
Smriti has been listed among the 100 inspirational women list issued by BBC in 2015 for her work in Atulyakala
Atulyakala has helped many deaf artists get a dignified projects and deserved fame.
Atulyakala has been successful to promote the Indian sign language among the youth of India by their various creative workshops and events on inclusion and sign language
Atulyakala and the founder Smriti has been honored with much recognition and few very prestigious awards.
The biggest challenge for Smriti was to separate this from the traditional NGO run model. And of course funding was another challenge but Atulayakala was totally bootstrapped but now they are a profitable social enterprise.
That your biggest weakness can be your biggest strength.
Smriti tell me may times how she firmly believes that the way forward is to walk with everyone and she totally works on that.
She is just 25, but very passionate about her aims in life. She has learnt that there is never a right time to start anything, once you start and be determined everything starts falling into place. And she is a dreamer, she dreams very big.
Its essential to plan and act.