Deaf Association Concerned With Inadequate Services

THE Namibian National Association of the Deaf (NNAD) has expressed concern at government’s failure to ensure there are enough qualified sign language interpreters in the country.

The association raised its concerns during a meeting with Prime Minister Hage Geingob yesterday which was also attended by officials from several ministries.

NNAD executive national chairperson Paul Nanyeni said the association had tried numerous times last year to contact the ministries of education, finance and health regarding the lack of services but they did not get any response.

Nanyeni said failure to provide qualified sign language interpreters had resulted in many deaf people depending on unqualified interpreters who sometimes distorted the messages resulting in misunderstanding between them and other service providers like the health sector and the police.

“Services rendered to those people living with disabilities are poor. The education system does not allow deaf people to go beyond Grade 10 and as a result most of them cannot get jobs,” he said.

Education minister David Namwandi, who attended the meeting, however said some of the claims made by the association were not entirely true.

Namwandi said although services for disabled people need to be improved, his ministry is doing everything possible to help people living with disabilities, especially regarding the introduction of sign language at educational institutions and public schools.

“The truth must be told and the truth is, the situation is not as bad as they portray it to be,” he said. “It looks like we are locking them outside but that is not true. We don’t want information that is not true going out there.”

Deputy director in the division of special programmes and schools, Lisony Kahikuata said teachers had no background in sign language but they are now being trained on its use.

“Yes, it is true teachers had no background on sign language. However, they are now being trained,” she said, adding that institutions of higher learning like the University of Namibia are also offering master’s degree programme in early child education and onsite training on disabilities.

Kahikuata said the ministry is also offering sex education classes to deaf pupils and is busy training taxi drivers basic sign language.

Lizette Beukes, from the Centre for Communication and Deaf Studies (CCDS), said although universities do not offer interpreter classes, the Centre for Deaf Education in Namibia has courses that are recognised by Cambridge University.

“Sign language at the centre is credited by Cambridge and we provide training and education to deaf people.”

Source : The Namibian