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General News of Wednesday, 22 August 2018


Persons with hearing impairment lament neglect at public offices, hospitals

Ghana’s Disability Act, Act 715 of 2006, mandates public service providers to create the needed facilities to make their services accessible to persons with disability.

Persons with hearing impairment, however, say the contrary is what they continue to endure on a daily basis.

Some of them are now taking solace in the church, especially the Methodist Church of Kumasi Diocese which has introduced a signage as means of preaching the gospel.

They want the government to take a cue from the church to incorporate them into public service delivery.

During a visit to the Adum branch of the church, Bishop of Kumasi Diocese, Very Reverend Christopher Nyarko Andam was busily propagating the Gospel in front of a huge congregation while a sign language interpreter makes gestures to convey the Bishop’s message to a small group of people at one end of the gathering.

They nod, raise their hands and shake or hit their palm with a fist in agreement to the preacher's words.

Some of them take notes.

That’s an innovation the Methodist Church has adopted to reach out to the hearing impaired.

A leader of the Hearing Impaired Congregation, Pastor Emmanuel Agyapong, who spoke through an interpreter explained the challenges they face in accessing public services.

“When the deaf goes to the court, he or she cannot communicate what he wants to say because there are no interpreters. Even at the hospital, it is the same,” he said.

Medical Director of Washie Hospital in Kumasi, Dr. Akosua Adoma Antwi, sharing her experience acknowledges there have been difficulties in treating such individuals.

She says it is easier when the deaf persons can read and write what they intend to communicate.

"I had a deaf client who was educated and came to the hospital with everything written on a paper and when you want to ask further questions you write on a paper for him. Sometimes he will point out the part of the body where the pain is”.

She continued, “but the problem is those who cannot write but point to the part of the body are unable to describe the kind of pain.”

The Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) and its foreign partners have trained personnel in various departments in sign language.

This is to help deal with such challenges that confront medical professionals in the Hospital.

Heads of the Ear, Nose and Throat Department of the Hospital, Dr. Rita Reindolf Larsen says though the facility exists, their services are rarely patronised.

“Most of the Doctors are not aware there are some individuals who can help them communicate better with hearing impaired.

"So I think the Hospital should find a way of communicating this to the Doctors so that we can give them the best of care," she added.