Srivatsan Sankaran suffers from a total hearing loss in his right ear and profound hearing loss in the left ear. After fighting various battles with himself and society, he is now an established full-time travel photographer and a blogger.
There is no doubt that one truly requires determination to pursue their passion to defy all odds that come along the way. One such story of determination is of Srivatsan Sankaran, the disability rights activist, who overcame his deafness to pursue his passion for photography.
The Chennai-based travel photographer and blogger was just six years old when he was diagnosed with total hearing loss in his right ear. Not only this, but he also happened to go through a profound hearing loss in his left year. Within no time, Srivatsan’s life was changed. He started going to government-aided schools and survived the time with a lack of friends during his teenage years.
Though Srivatsan’s grandmother taught him various subjects, he had a hard time understanding the concepts in classes. Sometimes, he would take hours battling his stress and anxiety for not understanding anything in class due to his hearing problem. The college life of Srivatsan was also not untouched from this, and he would make more efforts in understanding the concepts of Computer Science Engineering, the subject he took for his graduation. He would often make notes from his batchmate’s notebooks.
His anxieties were not just limited to this, as he would find himself in a great struggle to talk and would get horrified if his phone rang. However, he always wanted to talk to people about deafness and the problems that come with it but could not as he felt he was, ultimately, dependent on them.
“The main challenge is communication and listening. I always lookout for opportunities to listen but accessibilities are less. Without listening, it will be difficult to make decisions in every move. At times, technology helps me and it’s not always the solution,” the 31-year-old says, talking about problems due to deafness.
Even after joining a job in the IT sector in 2012, he could not feel entirely independent, and this was the time when his life took a turn. In 2014, he left his job and went ahead to pursue his love for photography, that too, in a full-time capacity. “Photography helps me to connect with people and the world. It helped to overcome the issue. I changed my mindset, and now I seek solutions for everything,” Srivatsan says.
Now, after a long time continuing with his passion, travelling to many places and documenting the culture of India, he says that being a travel photographer helps him become more confident since he gets to connect with a lot of people and places. “I believe, I enjoy the challenges,” he adds.
Srivatsan is also determined to encourage deaf children and people to take photography. He also wants to make the specially-abled persons capable and employed, hence, contributing to the increase in employment in the deaf community. “Deaf people use visuals for everything. I think, photography gives the right platform to connect with the real world which eventually helps them to become more confident. It helps to change the mindset, and so I decided to train deaf people to take a photography course and become independent,” he says.
Talking about his major objective, Srivatsan says, “I am in the mission of transforming 50 deaf students to independent photographers by the end of 2022. I would like to say that learning is important. No matter what, never give up on your dream and fight for it!”