Making history and building inclusivity as Sri Lanka’s first female sign language reporter
Suranga Udari, a 32-year-old woman from Ahangama, in Sri Lanka’s southern district of Galle, is not one to let life’s challenges stand in the way of fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming a journalist.
Recently, she made history by becoming Sri Lanka’s first female reporter to use sign language on camera to produce a news story on the improper disposal of face masks on the southern beach in Galle. The production, entirely in Sri Lankan Sign Language, was telecast on weekly news magazine MediaCorps Watch in January.
Born to a family of five children, Suranga and two of her siblings live with hearing impairments. “Growing up was incredibly difficult. However, I was determined to overcome all obstacles,” says Suranga. She attended a school that was for “abled” children, and was expected to compete with her peers as she left school and began looking for work.
However, after completing her formal education, Suranga could not find employment in any of the local media houses. She had two options: watch her childhood dream shatter into pieces or pursue her dream come what may. She chose the latter.