Nearly 21 000 deaf Namibians feel left out of mainstream media

04 Oct 2014 09:40am
WINDHOEK, 04 OCT (NAMPA) – More than 20 700 hearing impaired people in Namibia feel excluded from the mainstream information sector as they feel television broadcasters and cell phone providers do not cater for their needs.
This is according to the national chairperson of the Namibian National Association of the Deaf (NNAD), Paul Nanyeni.
On Thursday, he met with the Minister of Information and Communication Technology Joel Kaapanda, his deputy Stanley Simataa and representatives of local cellular providers and television stations in the capital to discuss ways and means to accommodate the hearing impaired in mainstream media.
Nanyeni, who spoke through a sign language interpreter, said people with hearing impairments, like all other Namibians, need access to information through technology.
“The world is developing and people are using different devices for communication,” he said.
He then indicated that the NNAD wants to ask Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC) and Telecom Namibia (TN) “to help them benefit as well, as education and information are very important”.
“Sometimes our national leaders say something on television, and then we as the deaf do not hear what they say. We often have to go to social networks like Facebook to see what they said,” he stated.
He further lamented that people with hearing impairments are often fired or retrenched from their place of work, and since they struggle to communicate and do not know their rights, they just accept their fate.
Meanwhile, Simataa said the meeting between his ministry and other role-players in the information sector is a clarion call to ensure that everybody has access to information.
“This is a clarion call for MICT to ensure that not only in theory, but practically, Namibia becomes an inclusive society, regardless of who you are, your capability or disability or challenge or technology,” he said.
Simataa called on the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and One Africa Television (OATV) to make more use of sign language interpreters for the benefit of their hearing impaired viewers.
Telecom Namibia and MTC representatives present at the meeting indicated that they will look into how they can accommodate the requests by the NNAD. The Chief Human Capital and Corporate Affairs Officer of MTC, Tim Ekandjo said there are things that can be done in the short term to address some of the issues.
“The telecommunications operators and the media has a role to play within this national problem,” he said.
Ekandjo added that all role-players need to be on the same page to so solutions can be found collectively.