By Sylvester Kumwenda/Mana
President Lazarus Chakwera has challenged service providers in the country to put in place measures that will ensure that persons with hearing impairment easily access services in all public and private service delivery points.
He made the call on Wednesday during the commemoration of the 2021 International Day of Sign Languages at Bingu International Convention Centre which was held under the theme “We sign for our rights”.
Chakwera said lack of sign language interpreters in many institutions has rendered people with hearing impairment in a difficult situation in accessing services.
“The theme calls for all of us to accord sign language the same status as spoken language in building a better Malawi for all,” he said.
“It is a call we must answer as it puts to test our commitment to the ideals of shared prosperity of the Tonse Alliance. It is the demand for the inclusiveness of which Malawi 2063 Agenda aspires to.”
“We want the use of sign language to be adopted for everywhere, at every function and in every institution.”
“Over the years, the implementation of service provision to people with hearing impairment has been requiring. As such, I call for all service delivery points, be it in the health, media, financial or education institutions to cater for people with hearing challenges,” said Chakwera.
The president said there should be mindset change and people should stop thinking that sign language is only for deaf people, but it should be regarded as a human right.
“We are committed to the task of closing this gap, that is why the 2022 –2023 National Budget will include resources for specialists and sign language training; establishment and renovation of more sign language resource centres,” he said.
Chakwera further assured that government would also help in the developing the first ever Malawian sign language dictionary.
He then challenged the Ministry of Information to ensure that all media houses, especially in television, have sign language interpreters so that people with hearing impairments also easily access vital information.
“We will make sure everyone with any type of challenge has the same rights as everyone. This will not happen overnight but we should start taking the steps now and remain on course,” he said.
Statistics indicate there are around 400,000 people with hearing impairment in the country.