HELLO MR PRESIDENT…
International Week for the Deaf….
Around the world, this week is celebrated as the International Week for the Deaf. This is a week set aside to commemorate and celebrate those in our societies who are hard of hearing. These people are often marginalised in societies such that their basic rights are violated. Sometimes, this leads to their inability to reach their full potential and thus hinder their self-actualisation.
The people who are hard of hearing can be as intelligent, brilliant and diligent as those who can hear. Thus, given the right opportunities and the right tools that they need, these people can do for national development as much as any other person.
In the Gambia at the moment, there is only one main school for the deaf and a few annexes around. Obviously, this is not enough. We need more schools for the deaf as we have many people who are hard of hearing in the country who equally need to be catered for. They are citizens who have a right to education like any other.
It is also important to promote the learning of sign language in the country. Currently, it is estimated that only about fifty percent [50℅] of deaf people and less than one percent of the others are estimated to understand sign language. This is not encouraging at all considering the number of deaf people we have in the country. It is estimated that there are about five thousand people in the Gambia who are hard of hearing. We need to include these people also in the development process.
Mr President, in many parts of the world, televission viewers who are hard of hearing are provided access to the news through sign language. We need to introduce sign language in the news at Gambia Radio and Television Services so that our citizens who are hard of hearing can also know about what is happening in their country. They are part of us and shouldn’t feel discriminated.
Towards this end, we need to introduce sign language in our school curriculum; from primary, secondary to tertiary level. Sometimes, the lack of access to information hinders the learning opportunities of these people. Some even end up leaving school. As a teacher, I know for a fact that they are as brilliant as any, if not more so. My best English Language student ever is hard of hearing. So, I want to suggest that we consider including these in our system. Remember, we will reach the shore together, or sink together.
Have a Good Day Mr President….
Tha Scribbler Bah
A Concerned Citizen
Photo Credit: Google images