09 Jul 2014 17:40pm
WINDHOEK, 09 JUL (NAMPA) The Namibian National Association of the Deaf (NNAD) has called on Government to train more interpreters in sign language so they can be employed at public institutions such as hospitals.
The organisation has also called on the government to recognise sign language as an indigenous language.
These calls were made by a four-member NNAD delegation who met with Prime Minister Hage Geingob and a number of ministers at the Office of the Prime Minister on Wednesday.
Also present were Minister of Health and Social Services Richard Kamwi, Minister of Education David Namwandi, Minister of Information and Communication Technology Joel Kaapanda and Minister of Finance, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.
Matters discussed during the meeting included the difficulties hearing impaired people battle with such as access to education; recognition of the Namibian sign language; the provision of sign language interpretation at public forums and institutions; and financial constraints.
NNAD chairperson Paul Nanyeni called on government to develop a mechanism that will help deaf people to study up to university level.
He noted that currently, they mostly attend school up to Grade 10 as lecturers at institutions of higher learning are not trained in sign language.
We want to grow further than Grade 10. Just understand that the deaf education is in sign language
We will feel part and parcel of Namibia if our mother tongue is recognised by the government, he stated.
Namibia has four schools that cater for hearing impaired people, but Nanyeni is of the opinion that the service provided at the schools is not adequate.
Namwandi during the meeting defended his ministry, saying it is a 'lie' that sign language is not recognised in Namibia.
Sign language is recognised as a subject in schools. Sign language is also offered at colleges and universities in the country. We are not trying to defend ourselves here and things are not good, but also not bad as portrayed here, he said.
Meanwhile, Nanyeni further indicated that there is a need for trained interpreters, especially at public institutions such as health centres and schools.
He indicated that there are people who have learned sign language, but who are unemployed.
With regards to the health sector, Nanyeni called on the Ministry of Health and Social Services to train nurses in sign language so they can assist deaf people.
He then thanked the government for providing them with a monthly income grant. Pensioners and people with disabilities in Namibia get N.dollars 600 per month.
Nanyeni also thanked the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) for interpreting the news in sign language.
We want the interpretation of sign language to be extended to other programmes such as the debates in Parliament, amongst others, he said, adding that deaf people also pay television (TV) licences.
Kamwi thanked the delegation for the information provided and promised to look into their concerns.