The opposition MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa has issued a statement celebrating the Internationa week of the deaf. We present the statement in full below.
The International Week of the Deaf is celebrated each year during the last week of September. It is a time where we join hands with people across the globe to raise awareness, showcase talent and display the skills and achievements of people with hearing and speech impairments. We also celebrate sign language, which is the mode of communication used by the deaf. Through sign language. we use our hands and forgers to make shapes. symbols. signs and gestures to communicate. Basic sign language is the most widely used form of sign language in Zimbabwe. However there are more advanced forms of sign language such as standard and international sign language.
Sign language is one of the sixteen official languages recognized in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
The major challenges faced by the deaf relate to barriers in communication which make it difficult for them to access services, particularly in government institutions. In health institutions, nurses and doctors are generally not sign language literate which leads to deaf people not being properly attended to and often wrongly diagnosed. Deaf people ford it difficult to make police reports exposing them to rights abuses and limiting their access to justice. In court, there are no readily available sign language interpreters which often delays court proceedings that involve deaf people. Deaf people heavily rely on sign language interpreters which means that they are at the mercy of second-hand, summarized and sometimes distorted information.
Many deaf people in Zimbabwe have limited access to education. They work in the informal market as vendors due to limited opportunities. This is because most teachers are not specially trained in sign language at teacher training colleges and other tertiary institutions. They suffer stigma in the job market.
The MDC Alliance calls for the adoption of sign language as a compulsory language in all educational institutions from primary level to tertiary level. This will ensure inclusivity and disability awareness by all persons and service providers from an early age and will cultivate a disability inclusive society and better educational prospects for the deaf.
We further call for sign language interpreters in all government institutions to avoid wrong diagnoses. delayed justice or serious criminal cases going unreported. We demand stronger policies for the deaf who are in the informal sector to ensure that their selling points are accessible and disability-friendly. All of these demands will be realized under an MDC Alliance government in line with our comprehensive Disability Policy.
The MDC Alliance celebrates and values the Deaf Community in Zimbabwe!