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Beyond Silence: Building a World of Empathy

Despite her challenges with hearing, Ranjini Ramanujam has not only claimed her space with hard work and diligence, but she maintains a cheerful demeanor and a “come what may” attitude. Know her and about her in this story.

Unbeknownst to anyone, nestled within the vibrant neighborhood of Bengaluru’s Malleshwaram, a spirited tale was coming alive! A place that was once a dense forest, a piece of land built upon 150 years ago, was to bear witness to a story that can truly inspire.

A first-born child, Ranjini Ramanujam had a seemingly active, chuckling personality. But when she didn’t respond to sounds of crackers being burst during festivities, while the other children did, her grandmother sensed something was amiss. Soon her family discovered that while she responded to visuals, she couldn’t recognize sound. A subsequent diagnosis revealed a hearing impairment, a challenge that could slow her development due to the lack of auditory inputs from her surroundings.

But this wasn’t something that was going to hold Ranjini back.

Ramanujam, Ranjini’s father, recounts stories from her childhood, depicting an enthusiastic kid, determined to defy her limitations. He witnessed her unwavering determination. Her attitude, he says, was always: "What if I can't hear? So what?" This spirit became her guiding light, illuminating her path with unstoppable positivity.

Ranjini remains humble, but her journey has been extraordinary, marked by challenges that turned into steppingstones for growth. With her family's support, she ventured into speech therapy, mastering unique communication techniques. Vibrations and blown-out candles became her tools, her creative outlets in a world of silence.

Her mother's plea echoed with love and determination. She had fervently requested that Ranjini remain in a regular school rather than being sent to a specialized one. Her belief was that being in a typical educational environment would offer Ranjini a unique opportunity to learn through observation and interaction, especially by listening to the voices of her peers. It was a decision that shaped her life path. And Ranjini greatly acknowledges her mother’s unwavering support and the wisdom of that choice.

Her resilience didn't stop within the confines of her home; sports became her transformative playground. Representing India, she learned that standing for the team meant standing for the entire community. That lesson shaped her into the compassionate and open-minded person she has become.

Fast forward to today, within the lively corridors of Infosys, you'll find her – interacting and expressing with her work mates. She’s not just an employee; but also, a vibrant force of nature, a beacon of resilience and passion that illuminates every corner of this workplace. And she has been doing so for the past 17 years.

When she first joined Infosys, she candidly notes, there was a learning curve for everyone. At the very beginning, people weren't quite sure how to interact with someone without hearing. Naturally, she had doubts too. “Would I be accepted? Could I make friends? Would people include me and interact with me effectively?” These were all natural worries for her, but within just a couple of weeks, her new colleagues proved to be incredibly supportive and understanding. As and when people became aware of her hearing impairment, voila! - they found ways to communicate through writing, chatting, or even using signs. That understanding and acceptance made all the difference, making her feel right at home.

Ranjini possesses a multitude of qualities, all bundled up in one person. Anjana MJ

Despite the lemons that life has given Ranjini, she has always made a glass of lemonade, and taken it easy with a great sense of humour.

She shares a funny little incident where during her initial training, she was teaching a new joinee, and she had to use simple terms like "plus" and "minus." But here's the twist – there was a guy named Manish in her team. So, when I said "minus," he thought I was calling him! “Of course, it was just a pronunciation mix-up, and we all had a good laugh about it.”

The journey onward

She currently manages a team of 19, where she and her team play a vital role in analyzing the company's performance in terms of quality, time, and productivity. She mainly focuses on the financial aspects of her client's processes, ensuring everything runs like a well-oiled machine.

One of her colleagues noted: "I didn't know much about her background or achievements when I first met her on the team. But let me tell you, Ranjini is a ball of energy, incredibly determined, and as dedicated as they come. The moment she steps onto the office floor, her enthusiasm is downright contagious. Thanks to her rich experiences, she's a real people person – totally different from your typical employees. I've learned so much about determination from her.”

Now, here's a little fun tidbit about Ranjini – she's got a knack for throwing punches into a conversation. If anyone's feeling a bit down, she'll whip out one of her funny lines and make sure they're back in a good mood in no time. She's a real mood-lifter!"

She can't help but smile at the thought of bringing a little more laughter into the world!

A smile, to Ranjini, is more than just a facial expression. It's a precious gift handed down from generations – from her mother's warm, heartfelt smiles to the gentle, knowing grins of her grandmother. Even her father, stern as he may seem, shares his smiles adding a touch of warmth. So, every time she smiles, Ranjini feels she carried with her a legacy of love and connection, a reminder of the joy passed down through her family.

“Of course, my mother always insists that I had a naturally smiling face,” says Ranjini, smiling.

No matter the circumstances, her smiles have been a constant companion for her, a gift from within.

Her younger sister, Anjana MJ, often describes Ranjini as an incredibly positive person. She remembers how she used to be a spirited tomboy, always taking the lead in sports. According to her, “Ranjini possesses a multitude of qualities, all bundled up in one person.”

However, there's a tinge of sadness in her voice when she recalls how her impairment prevented me from getting a driving license, despite her love for driving and her skill behind the wheel. It's one of the few setbacks she has faced, but as always, she has persevered with a smile.

“Infosys, to me, is more than just a workplace; it's my first home, a sanctuary where I belong. Over my 17-year journey here, I've championed an inclusive culture, emphasizing empathy as its heartbeat,” says Ranjini.

With a belief that consistent effort on all fronts can make the world a more inclusive place, she has collaborated with organizations like the British Council and crafted online courses tailored for the deaf community. She has even helped a cab booking platform to now offer chat options, ensuring accessibility for everyone.

“People from different abilities can learn how to communicate, collaborate and grow together by making small efforts,” she believes.

Ranjini’s story isn't just about overcoming adversity but about focusing on goals, she notes. Inclusivity is her mantra, empowering others her mission.

“I am a bit proud, but I would be prouder when people around me can succeed in their lives, on their own,” says Ranjini, with a wave of her hand, and a smile on her face.

Her laughter isn't just infectious; but it's a reminder that obstacles are mere speed bumps on the road to greatness.

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