Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gambia's deaf community asks government to ratify disability rights law, add sign language to national TV

From Today

Members of the Gambia Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (GADHOH) have called on The Gambia government to ratify the Person With Disability Act in the country and employ sign language interpreters at the national television and other institutions. This call was made during the association’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) held last week at the GADHOH headquarters in Kanifing.

According to president of the association, Mr. Abdoukadirr Drammeh, they are lobbying the government to provide or employ sign language interpreters at the national television – Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS).

According to him, his association is doing its best for the government to sign and ratify the United Nations Convention on the Right of Person with Disabilities (UNCRDP), but he quickly added that some strides have been made in other areas in the convention.

Drammeh also cited some sections of The Gambia Constitution that gives rights to persons with disabilities in the country and appealed to government institutions, ministries, and tertiary institutions to work with the association in order to establish and finance training programs for sign language interpreters and teachers for the deaf. His words: “We are also lobbying for the institution of high school for the deaf and hard of hearing students at college and university to be provided with sign language interpreters.”

According to the GADHOH president, all persons are equal before the law and God has created all equally, therefore disabled persons should be treated equally in the society.

Drawing from the 1997 Constitution, Drammeh said the rights of the disabled and handicapped to respect and human dignity is inviolable and should be recognized by the State. “The disabled persons shall be entitled to protection against exploitation, against discrimination, in particular as regard to health services, education and employment.”

He highlighted that GADHOH’s vision is empowerment, equity and barrier-free society for all deaf and hard of hearing persons, while their mission states “to promote equal opportunities, rights and full participation of deaf and hard of hearing persons in The Gambia.”

The GADHOH president also narrated the series of activities they have organized and implemented in 2010, ranging from the formation of active board membership as well as holding regular board meetings.

He disclosed that the association has also participated in training programs on capacity building of Western and Central Africa aiming at strengthening organizational development of deaf awareness lobbying and advocacy work in human rights of deaf people amongst others.

Also speaking, the secretary general, Mr. Abdoulie Sallah outlined the organisation’s activities in 2010, saying they have continued to discourage organized mendicancy by deaf people, and have carried out sign language teaching and interpreters services. The association also participated in national environmental sanitation exercises.

According to him, the media awareness campaign would be ongoing, as sign language interpreter’s services delivered at the Gambia Technical Training Institute and joint activities between GADHOH and other development partners would continue.

Sallah further disclosed that the association has also participated in both local and international sporting events as well as in local and international conferences.