Hearing-impaired 'left out'

16 September 2019 | Local News

An association representing the hearing-impaired says it is high time that their needs are looked at and addressed, as they feel neglected.

Chairperson of the Namibian National Association of the Deaf (NNAD), Beata Armas, said government's commitment that “nobody should feel left out” has not been implemented as far as the hearing-impaired is concerned.

Armas was speaking at a national celebration of the hearing-impaired, which took place last week at Rundu in the Kavango East Region.

She highlighted issues like the hearing-impaired being given wrong prescriptions at health facilities, the police not being able to handle cases involving them and parents forsaking their children, as a result of them not being able to communicate using sign language.

Armas said the hearing-impaired are also not consulted prior government taking decisions that affect them.

“We also want to be part of the decision-making process, because we know what our needs are. We don't want others to decide for us,” Armas said.

She also used the opportunity to call on government to invest in sign language interpreters, especially at health facilities, police stations and government offices.

She said currently sign language school teachers are used as an emergency measure, whenever interpreters are needed.

“Each region should at least have one sign language interpreter. Interpreters should be in communities, so that effective communication between the deaf and the hearing-abled takes place,” Armas said.

Armas said parents should make an effort to learn sign language, which is the only way for effective communication to take place between them and their hearing-impaired children.

Chairperson of the National Federation of People with Disabilities in Namibia (NFPDN), Daniel Trum, expressed his utmost discontent with the fact that people living with disabilities are mostly employed in the retail sector as casual workers, where they are paid a pittance.

Trum said it is very wrong for them to be viewed as only suitable for casual work, and unsuitable for well-paying jobs.

“Our people are being paid peanuts in those big retail shops. We want our people to get proper jobs, so that they can make a decent living,” he said.

On the issue of exclusion, Trum said those going around saying “no one should feel left out” must talk less and do more.

“No Namibian should feel left out. We should do what we talk about, because what we are currently doing is not what we talk about,” he said.

Trum demanded that all tertiary institutions and training centres that offer programmes such as nursing and policing should incorporate a sign language course, which will make it easier for those graduates, who are potential employees and employers, to understand the hearing-impaired.

KENYA KAMBOWE

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