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Promote basic sign language

The  government  has been urged to work in partnership with other stakeholders to promote basic sign language and mainstream it so as to  end  the  exclusion  of the hearing- impaired while seeking medical and other government-related services.

The  Chairman of the Differently Enabled people (PWD), Stephen Ogutu said the current constitution encourages and endorses inclusivity but  despite the assortment of benefits the government has extended to them, the deaf were still disadvantaged.

He  was speaking  on Thursday during  a  press  conference in Nakuru town.

He  appealed  to  the government to deploy personnel who are trained on sign language to Huduma Centres, hospitals, airports and even encourage public transport providers and hotels to either employ the deaf or ensure that at least one of their employees can communicate in  sign  language.

Ogutu  said  being unable to communicate orally doesn’t make those who use sign language less significant because they all achieve the same thing; communicate and pass messages to each other.

He  expressed  grief that most wananchi, including the clergy have not taken any interest in sign language and yet it was a tranquil, cool and  serene way of communicating without unnecessary noise.

The  Chairman urged the implementers of the Competency-Based Education (CBE) to make it one of the compulsory subjects in order to integrate deaf children to mainstream schools.

He  added that such integration would reduce the need for special schools which end up separating learners and create unnecessarily barriers. “ Schools which have integrated education are not only performing better but they are training young people on inclusivity from a young  age  and  nothing excites the young learners than playing games using sign language,’’ he said.

Ogutu  said it was a huge disservice to the hearing impaired that most police and judicial offices were not populated with personnel who could communicate in sign language and yet the deaf also requires such services.

He  said: “there are many rape cases among deaf girls who find it difficult to report such ordeals and whenever they use an interpreter the crime might easily be compromised since they are using a third party.”

However, Ogutu  commended the Kenya Institute of Special Education, for their effort to promote sign language in parliament, local TV stations  and  a number of churches in the country.

By  Veronica  Bosibori

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