Anisah Ismail, the mother of Esah Ismail who is moderately deaf, says more social support is needed for children like him. Ravindranath K / The National
Anisah Ismail, the mother of Esah Ismail who is moderately deaf, says more social support is needed for children like him. Ravindranath K / The National

A UAE mother’s call for more support for the hearing impaired

DUBAI // Curled up on his mother’s lap, Esah Ismail looks like any other shy two-year-old.

Only the hearing aids attached to his ears since he was three-months-old set him apart.

Anisah Ismail, 29, found Esah, her second child, was moderately deaf in both ears when he was an infant and they were living in Britain.

“Finding out that your child has any sort of disability is the hardest thing a parent can go through,” said Ms Ismail, who moved to Dubai seven months ago.

“But when you find out something like this about your child you have to fight for them. So when we moved out here, one of the biggest factors was – is there a deaf community, is there deaf awareness?”

Ms Ismail contacted the Kalimati Speech Communication Centre and was immediately welcomed.

“All I wanted was someone I know who has got kids who have the same problem – so a bit of a support network. More than anything, as a mum, that is what you need. It can be very difficult,” she said.

“Even though I love him with all my heart it is nice to know other people who know what you are going through.”

Despite the centre’s support, Ms Ismail feels more support, awareness and education is needed.

“You get a lot of questions here,” she said. “A lot of looks. Not everyone knows what a hearing aid is, so you can get a lot of stares.”

Ms Ismail would like to see more education on the disability and a place for parents of deaf and hearing-impaired children to meet and support one another and their children.

"With campaigns like this they will bring that awareness in to the public spotlight," she said.

“It is about making them realise there are no limits to what they can do and breaking down those barriers and for it to be the norm – not for them to be looked at as different in any other way.

“I just want him to feel confident and comfortable.”

Pakistani expatriate Kanza Dodhy, 34, said her daughter Mahnoor was six-months-old when doctors found that she was severely deaf.

With implant surgery, Mahnoor, who is six years old, now has a limited ability to hear and speak, and Ms Dodhy wants her to be treated like other normal people.

“The campaign is extremely important for people to know that deaf people are not something to be afraid of or something to be cut off from society.

“They are absolutely normal people,” said Ms Dodhy.

“It is just a little push and that is needed from all aspects of society.”


Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others


Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

Quick pearls of wisdom

Focus on gratitude: And do so deeply, he says. “Think of one to three things a day that you’re grateful for. It needs to be specific, too, don’t just say ‘air.’ Really think about it. If you’re grateful for, say, what your parents have done for you, that will motivate you to do more for the world.”

Know how to fight: Shetty married his wife, Radhi, three years ago (he met her in a meditation class before he went off and became a monk). He says they’ve had to learn to respect each other’s “fighting styles” – he’s a talk it-out-immediately person, while she needs space to think. “When you’re having an argument, remember, it’s not you against each other. It’s both of you against the problem. When you win, they lose. If you’re on a team you have to win together.” 

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