Nagina Tahir – Speaking Through Her Actions

Nagina Tahir - Cover Image

It is generally said, “Actions always prove why words mean nothing”. One’s ability and prowess are not reliant on the language they speak but on their resilience, diligence, and real gusto that helps them achieve something exceptional in life. Nagina Tahir has been serving as a precedent of such strength and buoyancy. Hearing impaired, Nagina Tahir is an influencer, an Executive Member of the National Forum for Women with Disabilities (NFWWD), and also holds many other accolades to her name. She didn’t let this affliction be an impediment in her prodigious journey of self-recognition, in fact, she takes pride in herself.

Recently, we at Pakistan Facts got a chance to have an inspirational conversation with Nagina through her sister, Aneela, with whom she communicated using sign language.

Deaf by birth, Nagina Tahir received her early education from Sir Syed College for Special Children, Rawalpindi, in Fine Arts. “My father was in the Army and he specially focussed on my schooling because he knew that it could have long-term effects on my future life”, she gesticulated. “After my graduation, my father encouraged me to move further with my life that could help me with my future. So, I joined a technical institution where I took vocational training. After that, I joined Hassan Academy, which is a school for deaf people, and taught there for some time.” According to Tahir, working at Hassan Academy was an exhilarating experience for her because she got to see people putting up with other disabilities as well, “I never knew that there are other kinds of disabilities as well. I always thought that being deaf is the only ailment but working at Hassan Academy gave me a chance to come in contact with people who were struggling with different ailments with such bravery. This all was very inspiring for me”, she said.

Nagina Tahir learned a lot during her time at Hassan Academy, which paved the way for her certification as attendant-ship and later as a Sign Language Specialist with Special Talent Exchange Program (STEP). “It was through STEP that I got a chance to be a part of the Disability Exchange Program in the US. When I went there, I realized that the sign language used there was quite different from what we used to practice here in Pakistan. In America, they have employed the ASL technique, which was difficult for me at first, but later I understood their mode of communication as well”, she explained.

Nagina Tahir cherished her time working in the US, “We visited different states and witnessed how the deaf community of the US is supported. This gave a blueprint of how I would run things in Pakistan by implementing the strategies used by them.” Along with the US, Tahir has also visited different countries where she attended different conferences including the one in the United Nations where she got to learn disability equality and inclusive development. “These visits to different places gave me a chance to compare the situation of Pakistan with that of the world. In the US and other countries, people with disabilities are provided with accessibility at every step”, she told.

Nagina Tahir’s visit to the UK was of sheer importance where she got to work with people belonging to different countries for the betterment and welfare of the disabled community. She talks about the difference in sign languages of different states there, “Different countries employ different languages as their mode of communication. Similarly, sign language is also a language that tends to vary with every country or state. People grow accustomed to the sign language being used in their respective states or countries because they have been practicing that by birth. Just like the dialect of every state differs from each other, sign language is also different. This difference cannot be changed because they speak the languages of their forefathers.”

Nagina Tahir also sheds light on the differences in the management of the disabled community in Pakistan and other countries, “There’s a massive difference in how things are managed in Pakistan and other countries for the disabled community. Those countries not only provide moral support but also lay assistance on physical and financial grounds. Pakistan, on the other hand, lacks in rendering such support, but the efforts should be made in this regard, especially on the governmental level.”

Tahir is currently working as a brand ambassador of DeafTawk, which is an online sign language interpretation service and was developed mainly to help the deaf community move independently. “There was no service of sign language interpretation in Pakistan. Moving individually in places was difficult because no one was able to understand our language. So, wherever we had to go, we had to take someone with us as an interpreter. DeafTawk is a massive help in this regard. By saving this app on our phone, we can go anywhere and communicate easily through many interpreters working with us in DeafTawk”, she told. “These kinds of services were already plied in other countries, but our motive was to bring such initiative in Pakistan as well. Even though the app has been in working for the past year, but it has drastically reduced the communication gap.”

We talked about the utilization of sign language courses at the school level for promoting inclusion in education which would help reduce the communicational challenges we face at a basic and advanced level. She replied, “This is very important in today’s world for everyone to get acquainted with sign language. Moreover, sign language interpreters should be employed by news channels in their respective talk shows for us to better understand the political, economical, and social scenario of our country without relying on anyone else. This all starts at the basic level of education.”

Nagina Tahir
Source: Instagram

It goes without saying that the support of one’s family, going through such struggles, matters the most. Tahir’s family also supported her through thick and thin, and always heartened her to move forward without letting this tribulation hinder her way. She told, “We are nothing without our family’s support. My father was very much supportive and always motivated me to not lose hope and to move forward. He sent me on national and international trips, all because he didn’t want me to put an end to my role in society. For this, I am immensely thankful for my parents.”

Nagina Tahir further talked about the integration of hearing-impaired children in society and how it can be achieved, “It’s very important for the parents to support their children from the beginning. They should always bring their children forward in order to construct their positive role in society.”

Nagina Tahir’s life and efforts are undoubtedly a parable of humility, resilience, and incessant passion. We really hope and look forward to her more accomplishments in life so that she can outperform her already cosmic part in society.

Watch Full Interview on YouTube: