Creativity cannot be restricted, believes Smriti Nagpal who is the Founder of Atulyakala, which is India’s first-ever lifestyle brand run by the deaf community. It is a social enterprise that consists of 90% of team members with hearing impairment who communicate via sign language.
With a vision to bring inclusivity and opportunities, Smriti through her organisation Atulyakala empowers the hearing-impaired community to live an independent life with dignity and self-esteem. Smriti has two siblings who have a hearing impairment, so she understands them more closely. She also worked as a sign language anchor with DD news and CNN Network 18 as an anchor and was responsible for hearing-impaired news bulletins.
In an exclusive interview with The Global Hues, Smriti Nagpal shares her journey and her brand Atulyakala.
Tell Us About Yourself And Your Organisation Atulyakala.
I grew up with two elder siblings who were deaf and mute. That’s why I learned sign language when I was only three years old. Since then, I have become a bridge between my parents and my siblings for communication. Growing up with my siblings, sign language became too organic for me.
Along with pursuing graduation, I was working with a News channel as a sign language anchor. And during that time, I came across many designers and fashion artists who were looking for jobs but were unable to get any because of their hearing impairment. After exploring the market, I realised that there were a lot of people who were in similar situations because no one was hiring them.
In 2013, Atulyakala was born to offer job opportunities for deaf and mute communities. All the employees we have in Atulyakala are well-educated people with proper degrees in their respective fields. For me, hiring a person with a hearing impairment is like hiring any other person. It does not make any big difference. At Atulyakala, we have a team of highly creative and potential designers and artists who design various kinds of bags, home decor, stationery items, and apparel.
Do You Think The Corporate World Is Taking Any Firm Steps When It Comes To The Inclusivity Of All People?
Yes, I can say that there is a lot of growth in the corporate world when it comes to inclusivity. There is a lot more improvement in comparison to earlier times. But when we talk about the creative landscape or skill-based industries, the gap is still prevalent.
The corporate world is still lacking the required infrastructure and ecosystem that encourages the inclusivity of all kinds of people. We, as a whole, are not taking that extra mile to include everyone.
I believe that there is an improvement in blue-collar jobs, but the creative field and related industries still need significant changes.
Is It Difficult To Maintain Communication With People Who Have A Hearing Impairment? How Do You Keep Your Day-To-Day Communications With Your Employees?
I use sign language to communicate with my employees. It is a rule in our company that whosoever joins Atulyakala has to learn sign language. It not only helps employees build smooth communication with each other but also gives a sense of inclusivity to deaf and mute people in the workplace.
This rule also ensures that no one faces any kind of problem in carrying out the operations of the firm.
What Are The Basic Steps One Should Take In Order To Bring A Change In Society?
I think everyone should learn sign language. It is fun to learn and also it enables you to communicate with anyone without using any particular language.
If you encourage inclusivity and want to take the step towards the inclusion of everyone then you need to ask yourself one question that is “Am I doing it just because of the sake of it or do my efforts really make an impact?”
What Is The One Piece Of Advice You Would Give To All Readers?
I believe that there is so much in a human being other than what we can see from the outside layer. If you really want to make an impact, start by taking small steps. Take small steps by creating an impact in your small areas and then move forward.
If you can impact just one life with your efforts, it means you are really making a difference. Consider everyone equal. Everyone has the potential to learn and do something, we just need to believe in them.