Hearing impaired student tops exam in Persons with Disabilities category

ON MONDAY, as the results of the JEE mains were announced, Ojas Maheshwari, a resident of Andheri (East), emerged as the top ranker in the Persons with Disabilities (PwD) category. The 18-year-old teenager is no stranger to the hall of fame.

Ojas lost his hearing when was between six and seven years. A year later, he discovered his love for mathematics and science. Thanks to the help of his mother, Pooja, who is an Olympiad teacher herself, Ojas started preparing for and entering various Olympiads, maths and science exhibitions and competitions at the age of 8.

Today, the collection of medals and trophies of the National Talent Search Examination (NTSE) scholar and Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana (KYPY) top ranker is so vast that his mother jokingly complaints of having to buy a new almirah to accommodate them.

Ojas wasn’t always an IIT aspirant, she shared. “He wanted to study astronomy as he was fascinated by it but at some point, he decided to switch. We have always been supportive because he always made the right choices,” she said.

“I know people think I may be a nerd because I love studies, especially mathematics and physics and spend a lot of time in them. But those who know me closely, know that I love socialising and going out on dinners with friends and I love football,” said the teenager.

Ojas With role models such as Sundar Pichai and APJ Abdul Kalam, Ojas has pushed himself to do better from a young age. With his heart set on IIT, he didn’t get into a regular junior college after topping his Class 10th instead joined Narayana Junior College, where he would train for the competitive exams, studying for over 10 hours a day.

His disability, a 70 per cent hearing loss in both ears, is something he doesn’t like to bring up much. However, he does admit that it created considerable hurdles, especially during the pandemic.

“It’s difficult to explain how it hinders the daily routine, even though one gets used to it over time. But yes, certain times are more prominent than others. Like when offline classes just started after the pandemic, everyone was wearing masks. From a young age, I try to avoid asking someone to repeat things I can’t hear so I learnt to lip-read. But lip reading wasn’t possible since everyone was wearing masks. A lot of times I requested teachers to take masks off while teaching in classrooms. But more difficult were the peer discussions.” he said.

“I would love to start my own company and design an innovative solution for some problem,” he said about his further plans.

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