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Call for more sign language interpreters

People with hearing and speaking disabilities have appealed to the government to employ more sign language interpreters in various institutions.

Speaking in Nyahururu stadium on Friday September 23, while marking the international day of sign language awareness, the deaf community said that they have encountered a lot of issues in hospitals, supermarkets and schools whenever there are no sign language interpreters.

The theme of the day was ‘sign language for everyone’ an event sponsored by the national government in partnership with the British Army Training Unit in Kenya (BATUK).

Speaking to KNA through an interpreter, Dominic Maroko, who is the Laikipia deaf coordinator, said that most of the challenges they go through are in places of social services like hospitals, supermarkets and at bus stages.

“We are advocating rights for the deaf. We are having many challenges and we want translators everywhere.

“Laikipia County, for example, some interpreters are not qualified. They interpret wrongly. Some of the parents are hiding their children yet they have a right to education. They can go to deaf schools and colleges.

“We also need extra deaf schools or the normal schools should incorporate the deaf curriculum,” said Maroko.

He added that many people shout at them thinking they are assuming them.

He also regretted that they go to hospitals and get delayed services or wrong prescriptions because of misunderstandings.

Maroko said that they are very talented like other people in sports, music and art and their only limitation is speaking and the society should take them positively and understand the basic interpretations like directions and greetings.

Sabina Wangeci, a sign language interpreter, says that she helps the deaf community in rights advocacy.

She said that Laikipia as a whole has a shortage of qualified interpreters. She said that they need more interpreters to be hired and also strategically placed in hospitals and supermarkets to serve the deaf community.

“We also need the deaf community to be embraced in society as normal people. They should be taken to schools and allowed to interact with their age mates who are not deaf.

“We are also appealing to employers to consider the deaf and offer them jobs. To parents, if you have a deaf child, go for a basic sign language course for easier communication with your child. We also need sign language as a course in every school curriculum,” said Wangeci.

She added that they want to start sign language clubs in schools like those of first aid, debate and drama, but they need some funding to kick-off.

In Kenya, sign language is recognised as a national language under the Constitution.

By Antony Mwangi

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