THE road to becoming a chartered accountant is inherently long and arduous, but for Kashveera Chanderjith being deaf made the obstacles seem almost insurmountable.
Chanderjith was diagnosed as being deaf shortly after birth and, when she was a little older, her parents took her to a Cape Town hospital where she began months of intensive speech therapy. "I said my first word, 'flower', which to me is very significant because it takes time for a flower to bloom and I always use that analogy for my life," said Chanderjith. "However, on that same note, I lost my entire childhood.
I didn't play in the garden freely or do things that other little children did because I was constantly learning. I used to be reading, picking up vocabulary, and I suppose that has led to my greatest love, reading." Although finding the right school, in both her primary and senior years, was a struggle, when she did, Chanderjith excelled academically and eventually matriculated at Crawford College in Durban with five distinctions, all on higher grade.
"I wrote normal matriculation examinations and ended up with a distinction in Afrikaans and English, which are both languages - and it was inconceivable at the time of my birth that I would ever speak," she said. She then went to the University of KwaZulu-Natal to pursue her love of numbers through an accounting degree. At university, she had to work twice as hard to keep up with her peers, but it paid off because she never failed a single course and became the first deaf graduate of the university.
"I used to have to study twice as hard as everyone else, because vocabulary and other technical words were difficult for me to comprehend. I also had to have knowledge of the subject matter beforehand because it was a given that I would lose two-thirds of any conversation, so it was always about joining the lines otherwise I would be completely lost in a lecture.
I always made sure I sat in the front so that I was able to lip-read - and eventually mastered the art of writing in a straight line whilst looking at a person talking," explained Chanderjith. She studied for her honours degree through Unisa and then completed her mandatory three- year articles at accounting firm Deloitte in Durban. "Although they were not my kindest years as I was suddenly catapulted into a mainstream working environment, it taught me some great lessons and made me altogether a very capable person.