First deaf lawyer with Bar Council of India, Soudamini Pethe clears AIBE

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The first deaf lawyer to enrol with the Bar Council of Delhi, Soudamini Pethe, has cleared the All India Bar Examination (AIBE).

Pethe, unfortunately, did not live long enough to celebrate this feat. She passed away on April 22 after a sudden bout of breathlessness.

She was recognised for her activism on the challenges faced by the deaf community. It was her vision as a lawyer to bridge the gap between the deaf and those who can hear owing to the lack of a level playing field in terms of access to resources and surroundings.

The first deaf advocate with the Bar Council of Delhi had earlier said that she wanted to work for the rights of the hearing impaired and help them gain access to education, healthcare and justice.

The 45-year-old Advocate argued her matters in courts through the medium of an Indian Sign Language (ISL) interpreter. She sought to be an inspiration for the deaf youth to join the legal profession and contribute to the cause of their community.

The established lawyer, who suffered hearing loss after being infected with meningitis at the age of nine and subsequent consumption of strong medicines, said that words like ‘disability’ and ‘impairment’ had negative connotations.

She said her aim was to use her law degree to advocate for the cause of deaf rights, gaining access for the deaf community in India to every aspect of life, be it education, health care or career and most importantly, to get access to justice.

The 45-year-old had once said that she wanted to spread more awareness and empower the deaf by equipping them with the knowledge of their legal rights and becoming capable of ensuring that these rights were fulfilled.

She had earlier urged more deaf youth to join the legal profession and contribute to the cause of the deaf.

Pethe, who was born in Mumbai’s Dombivli, said that she faced many communication barriers and majority of these challenges arose due to lack of accessibility in schools, colleges, public transport or even hiring a cab.

Explaining the challenges she faced to get enrolled as a lawyer, Pethe said from collecting provisional certificates to enrolling at the Bar, no communication access was available.

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