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Regional News of Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Source: GNA

Regional Director appeals for the deaf

Sunyani (B/A), Feb. 13, GNA - Mr. R. K. Santah, Brong-Ahafo Regional Director, Social Welfare, on Wednesday appealed to the government, corporate institutions and individuals to package and disseminate information on the environment, family planning, HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy, politics and other issues to meet the needs of the hearing impaired. He identified communication barrier as one of the basic problems confronting the deaf in the country and this had culminated in their inability to communicate effectively in hospitals, courts, police stations and other public places. "This barrier limits their access to education and higher education, employment, information, community and public services. The deaf have a right to access information on health, political and social issues, among others, but little effort has been made to break the communication barrier", he said. Mr. Santah was speaking at a public forum on Ghanaian sign language organized by the Brong-Ahafo Regional Association of the Deaf at the Institute of Adult Education in Sunyani. It was under the theme, "Breaking the Communication Barrier". He stressed the need for the provision of pre-school facilities for deaf children and more opportunities for parents to learn sign language by acquiring basic knowledge of the deaf culture. "Approximately 90 per cent of deaf children are born to hearing parents who have no knowledge of sign language. The public should be encouraged and given the opportunity to learn the rudiments of sign language", Mr. Santah said. Mr. Bernard Kwate, Brong-Ahafo Regional President of the Regional Branch of the Ghana National Association of the Deaf, said since the establishment of the deaf school, only two students had gained admission at the University of Ghana, whilst three others entered the Presbyterian College at Akropong Akwapim in an academic year. "Then the rest two or three deaf students are put on the waiting list due to shortage of interpreters", he stated.

Mr. Kwate said another problem was that there was only one deaf school at Bechem in Brong-Ahafo and that some parents of the deaf and their families in the villages and towns could not send them to the school due to financial constraints. He appealed to non-governmental organisations and the state to support the financing of Ghanaian Sign Language (GSL) and employ sign language teachers and interpreters for the deaf. In an address read for him Mr. Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister, pledged the commitment of the government to break the communication barrier "since it believes the wealth of any nation stands on the quality of its human resources and not the natural resources". He said communication was very important in every facet of national development and gave assurance that the government was dedicated to harnessing their potential for national progress. Mrs. Akua Debrah, Brong-Ahafo Regional Director of Education, called for the provision of hearing aids to enhance their hearing abilities to enable them to perform creditably in their various jobs.

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