In a country with over 28 national languages, Jhoti Prajapati did not speak at all. Her family, who lived in an Indian village in Maharashtra, was worried. When the child turned 3, her mother Rima took her to a doctor and got an explanation for the silence: Jhoti was born deaf.
The diagnosis spurred Rima into action. For two years, she says, she worked diligently to acquire the disability certificate needed for Jhoti's admission to a school for the deaf. There are only 388 such schools in India, and none near her village. So at age 5, Jhoti moved with her mother to Mumbai.