Let’s involve the deaf and hearing impaired in communication- James Sambian

By Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai

Communication (through telephone, radio, television, or inter personal means) is important for social and economic development of any country. However owing to the hearing impairment of a sizeable number of about 25 million people in Ghana, many of the deaf and hearing impaired persons are unable to communicate properly making them feel troubled, slighted and marginalized.
Many people concerned about this situation are not happy expressing the wish that the government and people of Ghana must do something about it. One such person is Mr. James M. Sambian Director of Ghana Association of the Deaf who has written a letter to government and policy makers on the seriousness of the situation.
Headed “Letter to Government & Policy makers” Mr. Sambian said the following

Dear Policy maker:

I am writing this letter as a concerned Ghanaian who is interested in promoting communication between deaf people and their hearing counterparts. I am especially concerned because there is a huge communication gap which hinders the development of persons with hearing impairment. But before I go into the main purpose of this letter, let me first give a brief overview of the deaf situation in Ghana to enable you appreciate the problem.

Deafness is a disorder affecting the ability to hear. It includes people with very limited hearing who cannot rely upon it for communication. Deafness can emanate from heredity and caused by disease, accident/trauma and age-related hearing loss. Deaf people communicate using sign language, lip reading, written communication or a combination of these methods depending on their abilities and preferences. It is important to understand that deafness is categorized as pre-lingual or post lingual. Pre-lingual refers to deafness before speech and language is acquired. Post-lingual is after the acquisition of speech and language. This explains why some deaf persons are able to speak although they cannot hear.
The 2010 Housing and population census has indicated that the population of persons with hearing and speech disability in Ghana today is 211,712 out of a total national population of 24,658,823. This means that approximately 1% of the Ghanaian population has hearing loss and this creates a huge communication barrier. As you know, communication is the major challenge facing persons with hearing impairment. Compounding this challenge is the lack of proficient sign language interpreters who form the essential plank between the deaf and hearing. Sign Language Interpreters play a vital role in helping deaf people gain information, education, healthcare, entertainment, employment (formal and informal) and many other services that hearing people take for granted.

And now the purpose of this letter: A long term solution to this communication barrier between the deaf and hearing is for the policy makers and duty bearers to consider sign language to be a part of the curriculum in all public basic schools. This way, by the time the young ones complete basic and secondary education and go into employment or their chosen professions, they would be able to communication with everyone including persons with hearing impairment thereby subduing the services of sign language interpreters to advanced and complicated situations.

It is compelling for me and many other Ghanaians to urge Policymakers and government officials, chiefs and opinion leaders, civil society organizations and politicians to join hands with this crusade to advance this agenda for the total development and inclusion of persons with hearing impairment in Ghana.

May your efforts, combined with other committed Ghanaians, produce a rewarding and satisfying result for the benefit of deaf people in accessing healthcare and other public services.

Yours faithfully,

James M. Sambian
Director – Ghana National Association of the Deaf
Tel: 0200 568364
Email: jjsambian@yahoo.co.uk/ you may call Mr. Sambian for more information on deafness in Ghana

0244 370345/ 0264370345/0208844791 abdulai.alhasan@gmail.com/eanfoworld@yahoo.com

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