…on passage of Act on persons with disability, Act 715
By Samuel Agbewode
The Volta Region branch of the Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD) has appealed to the government to help ensure that the passage of the Act on Persons with Disability, Act715 of 2006, is passed into a Legislative Instrument (LI) for its implementation for the total benefit of the disadvantaged in the society.
The Volta Regional President of GNAD, Mr. Maxwell Dzadey, who made the appeal at a press conference in Ho over the weekend, stressed that the absence of the LI to legitimise the use of sign language that would be recognised by the public as the natural language of the deaf, remained a major challenge to their survival.
Mr. Dzadey noted that the inability of the government to pass the LI had led to the situation where deaf persons in the country had been undermined in various ways, because the deaf person had the same rights as other Ghanaians, but due to the communication barrier, they were almost sidelined and marginalised.
He continued that there was the need for the government to ratify the United Nation Conventions on the rights of persons with disabilities, of which Ghana was one of the first countries in the world to sign, in order to create the necessary opportunities for people with disabilities to benefit from the numerous prospects available.
Mr. Dzadey said the deaf in society were socially, economically, politically and spiritually isolated, due to the communication barrier, noting also that the standard of education of the deaf was very low, job openings were almost non-existent, and stressed the importance of the government assisting them for the public to appreciate the vital role the deaf could play in national development.
The Volta President of the Deaf called on the government to ensure that sign language was recognised as an official language, to enable it become an acceptable language for service providers like doctors, nurses, the police, the courts, banks, as well as the media, to learn sign language, in order to address the communication problems between them and the deaf.
Mr. Dzadey pointed out the need for government to train more sign language interpreters, who would train the service providers and interpret for the deaf in the communities, adding that it was important for the Ministry of Education to pay attention to deaf students in higher institutions who were facing difficulties, because of the absence of sign language interpreters.
He further appealed to the Special Education Division to pay critical attention to the teaching and effective use of sign language in schools for the deaf, as well as attract the interest of parents of deaf children, so they take more interest in learning the sign language to help reduce the frustrations of deaf children.
“We want to place on record that the disability or deafness, which unfortunately, is difficult to comprehend, has psychological, physiological and sociological effects on the personality of the individual, and the recognition of the sign language, would be a big relief to the deaf community. We must not forget that every hearing person is a potential deaf person.”
Mr. Dzadey stressed the need for all television stations in the country to use sign language in their programmes, to allow greater participation of deaf people in television programmes, and that sign language teaching centers be established to train parents, as well as personnel in deaf schools, in sign language.