Ulgulan Talks! : Interview with Ferdinand Lyngdoh Marshillong

The Sangyan
7 min readJun 30, 2023


In this twelfth interview of The Sangyan’s ‘Ulgulan Talks!’, an endeavour to voice the issues of the larger interest of ‘We, the People’, Abhishek (the interviewer) talks with Ferdinand Lyngdoh Marshillong, a young man from Shillong, Meghalaya (India) primarily regarding his lived experiences with disability and climate change.

A traditional cooking setup from a tribal village with “The Sangyan: Ulgulan Talks!” written over it on the smaller platform and below the earthen chimney. The setup has eight small earthen chimneys over a small platform that settles over a larger platform; all made up of soil and other natural ingredients and brown in colour.
The Sangyan — Ulgulan Talks!

Ferdinand is a PhD scholar from the Linguistic Department of NEHU and has also completed his B.Ed Special on Hearing Impairment. Ferdinand can be reached at his LinkedIn profile.

This interview was conducted in June 2023 through online mode in written format. The due informed consent of the interviewee has been taken before the publication of the blog. Further, the ‘Right to be Forgotten’ of the interviewee shall be respected.

Hello Ferdinand, please talk about your life journey in some detail for our readers.

I am a young academician of 34 years with exceptional leadership abilities, as I have made a difference to not just the hearing-impaired community but to the entire Person With Disabilities community at both State and National levels. As Chairman of the FPWD — Federation of Persons with Disabilities, I have enabled Disability People Organizations (DPOs) to come together on one platform and have one voice to work together for common interests/issues.

In 2019, under my leadership, all the DPOs jointly signed the petition, ensuring the Government of Meghalaya implemented the 4% reservation of government jobs for PWDs using the roaster system. As an Ex-President of the Meghalaya Deaf Association (MDA), I have organised several workshops, training programs and webinars to raise awareness and promote accessibility for my community members. I played a key role in implementing the accessible election campaign by training election officers in sign language across 11 districts of Meghalaya.

I played a key role in the development of the Meghalaya Sign Bank Android App that empowers deaf users and also helps the hearing community to learn Sign Language. On typing an English word, the corresponding sign is displayed in video format through the App. Being a key member of Neighborhood Community Networks (NCN), a global organisation, I set up five children’s parliaments, including an inclusive children’s parliament in Meghalaya. I gave training to both the animators who will be responsible to guide the Children’s Parliament and also to all the children in the parliament to have leadership skills and practice SDG in both schools and community levels. Alongside all of this, I am a Research Scholar at NEHU (Northeastern Hill University) researching Deaf Bilingualism in Meghalaya, The research deals with how Deaf people can learn the 1st and 2nd languages in their life.

I am also a Research fellow with NCPEDP, and my research work concerns Accessible Transportation. I call myself a problem solver and have set more goals for myself — 2 of which are to find solutions to an accessible transportation system in the State and to drive policy changes at the state level that would make sign language a subject in schools and colleges.

In Picture: Ferdinand Lyngdoh Marshillong

Please talk about your condition/disability and comorbidities, if any, in some detail.

I am a person with hard of hearing, and I lost my hearing due to an accident from an early age of my life at the age of 10.

I was born a neurotypical child and grew up healthy. I was able to take part in many social activities, including religious activities but however, due to a tragic accident, I lost my hearing ability at the age of 10 years.

Initially, I did not understand that I had become partially deaf till I reached my class VIII standard when I understood, I was not able to understand what the teacher teaches in class. Later I was not able to sing and take part in church choirs, and this really affected me. My parents had taken me to many medical specialists and even ENT specialists, but it did not improve my condition.

As years passed, I was socially excluded as it became hard for me to communicate with people. I was given hearing aids to help me, but it did not improve my condition. In fact, I felt worst as the hearing aids gave me constant migraine. Later, I decided to stop using the aids and totally shift sign language as a way to communicate. As I began to accept my condition, better I felt and felt more empowered when I started to help other people with severe disabilities.

Do climate change and its induced disasters (read extreme weather and climatic conditions like heatwaves, cyclones, floods, etc.) have any impact on your physical health/condition? If yes, please illustrate the ways it affects you.

Yes, it affect my eyes if the weather is very hot and my eyes pain and I cannot stand outside in the sun during the heat season.

Climate change has affected me. I was born in a region that is extremely cold and receive heavy rainfall during the summer. However, with climate change, the weather phenomena are changing. Dry summers, which mean less rainfall and constant load shedding. This has affected my research work as I need to use the internet and do a lot of research through online mode. My health has also been affected by the hot weather as I get dehydrated constantly and had to change my food habits according to the weather, not the season.

Do climate change and its induced disasters (read extreme weather and climatic conditions like heatwaves, cyclones, floods, etc.) have any impact on your mental health/condition? If yes, please illustrate the ways it affects you.

Yes, I have felt anxiety when I could not attend online meetings or training or even do my PhD research on time due to load shedding. Even though my anxiety is not directly due to climate change but the effects of climate change have made a negative impact as well in my life.

What do you think about climate change and its induced disasters (read extreme weather and climatic conditions like heatwaves, cyclones, floods, etc.) acting as a threat multiplier and resulting in capability deprivation (like loss of livelihood or additional medical expenses, etc.)? Please provide a personal account, if plausible.

From my experience in my area, climate change affects us a lot during the rainy season. Due to heavy rainfall, sometimes there is no electricity. The same happened during the Autumn season. Due to no rain, the government causes load shedding, so there is no electricity for more than 8 hours in one day, and this leads to loss of internet connectivity and, consequently, it affects work and productivity.

Therefore, it affects my research studies because, as a Deaf person and PhD research scholar, I depend more on technology to connect with other people through an online platform, for example, an online library.

Please tell us about any measure/action you take to adapt and mitigate the negative impact of climate change and its induced disasters (read extreme weather and climatic conditions like heatwaves, cyclones, floods, etc.) in your life to avoid worse-off experiences (like avoiding travelling during extreme weather conditions or certain medication, etc.)? Please provide a personal account if plausible.

In my area, people need to plant more trees to reduce the heat during the summer season and also for floods and the Government should encourage people to use solar energy and they should provide it free of cost. The important one is that the government should include persons with disability in a disaster management plan. The personal measure that I have taken was to invest in solar lights and maybe, in the near future, an inverter.

What else do you think needs to be done to counter the worse-off experiences of climate change and its induced disasters (read extreme weather and climatic conditions like heatwaves, cyclones, floods, etc.) and to counter the disproportionate impact of climate change and its induced disasters on persons with disability concerning their physical and mental health, work and livelihood, hunger and poverty, disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction, etc. to ensure disability-inclusive climate justice.

  1. The government should have a clear policy on the Disaster management plan.
  2. Access emergency calls for all.
  3. Emergency funding for persons with Disability to provide due to the impact of climate change.
  4. Accessible house shelter to protect from rainfall and heat.

Any further comment you want to make with respect to the intersection between climate change (and its induced disasters) and disability?


This was Ferdinand Lyngdoh Marshillong talking about his life journey and lived experiences with disability and climate change. We at The Sangyan and Ulgulan Talks thank him for giving his precious time and an opportunity to know about him and his lived experiences.

Abhishek Kumar is an NCPEDP-Javed Abidi fellow on Disability currently working on the “Impact of Climate Change on Persons with Disabilities. The author can be reached at <abhishek.ncpedp@gmail.com>.

The interview has been published on the blog of The Sangyan as part of its public engagement and discourse initiative called ‘Ulgulan Talks!’.



The Sangyan

Law. Environment. Disability | Curator ~ Adv. Abhishek Kumar | Working on the 'Impact of Climate Change on Persons with Disabilities' | thesangyan.in | 🇮🇳 |