Sunday, March 13, 2011

In Ghana, public called upon to learn sign language

From GNA:

ACCRA, Ghana -- Mrs Lydia Asamoah, National Women's Secretary for Deaf Women in Ghana, on March 11 called on Ghanaians to learn sign language to enable deaf people to access information since they have a lot to contribute to the development of the nation.

She said sign language should also be promoted so that people who were deaf could mix with their counterparts who hear while deaf children could have the opportunity to go through mainstream education without any hindrance.

Mrs Asamoah, who was one of 29 ladies who participated in a programme in the United States of America last year, shared her experiences with the GNA as part of International Women's Day. The US programme, Women's Institute of Leadership and Disability (WILD) organized by Mobility International USA (MIUSA), was aimed at increasing leadership capabilities and promoting the rights and responsibilities of women with disability. Lydia, a 30-year-old woman married to a man without any disability said: 93No matter who you are, disabled or not, you can contribute to development."

She said in the US sign language interpreters were paid well and people yearned to learn sign language. "The family that hosted me in USA are not deaf but they said they wanted their children to become sign language interpreters in the future, hence accepting me to live with them for the period," she added.

Mrs Asamoah, who is a teacher of Social Studies at Mampong School for the Deaf, said the MIUSA programme made her realize her potentials and her leadership skills and affirmed that she was a leader. "As a person who is deaf, I need to be loud, proud and passionate," she said, and pointed out that the programme in the USA taught her to be just that.

"My way of teaching has changed for the better; now my students respond to my assignments well." Mrs Asamoah who studied Business Ad ministration and Human Resource Management at the University of Ghana, sharing her life story said, 93I had to struggle through my education. At a point, the University nearly sacked me because they taught I wasn't doing well." Lydia said it took the intervention of the Disability Coordinator of the University to enable her to complete her course in 2006. She said she did not know sign language because she went through the mainstream education and used to hear people only by reading their lips.

Hinting about her future plans, she said she intended to make a documentary about disability with a special focus on deaf people and called for support in that direction to enable her to educate Ghanaians about disability.

"Disability can occur at any time in a person's life," she said. Explaining why she could speak but not hear, she said she became deaf at age 10 when she had already acquired language. Mrs Asamoah also said the Ghana Association of the Deaf, would also focus on sexual and reproductive health this year since it was usually not talked about in the Association. "I have been able to brave the odds in life and I realize that it is important for one to face his or her fears in life," she said, adding 93my husband is proud of me."