The Henry Djaba Memorial Foundation has expressed the need for all Ghanaians to appreciate the importance of early access to sign language, sign language services and quality education in sign language for deaf persons in Ghana.
According to the Executive Director of the Henry Djaba Memorial Foundation, Dr. Otiko Afisah Djaba, “sign language is a tool for the development of deaf people because it offers them the opportunity to break the barriers of their world of silence”.
In a Press Statement issued in Accra to commemorate the 2019 International Sign Languages Day, Dr. Otiko Afisah Djaba made a ‘Call to Action’ to duty bearers, carers of deaf people, Government agencies, Hospitals, Civil Society Organizations and service providers to make sign language interpreters part of their activities for the benefit of all deaf people in Ghana.
This year’s International Sign Languages Day is under the theme: “Sign Language Rights for All”.
The Executive Director of Henry Djaba Memorial maintained that “to leave anybody behind or out is against their human rights and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), deaf people should have access to Sign Language Interpreters”.
Dr. Djaba congratulated all Sign Language Interpreters in Ghana and the rest of the World for bridging the communication gap between deaf people and their hearing counterparts.
According to the 2010 Housing and Population Census, there are 110,625 deaf people in Ghana. Records of the Ghana National Association of the Deaf, state that, there are approximately sixty (60) proficient Sign Language Interpreters in Ghana. This represents a ratio of 1:1844. Comparatively, the UK has a ratio of 1:31. This means that, Ghana is far behind so the 2019 theme “Sign Language Rights for All” is very apt for Ghana.
The Former Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection urged Ghanaians to collectively take action to address the inequality, stigmatization, discrimination and abuse of the rights of deaf people.
Meanwhile, the 23rd September was set aside by the United Nations General Assembly to commemorate the Week of the Deaf (WFD), which was established in 1951. The objective for dedicating this day as the International Day of Sign Languages is to raise awareness of the importance of sign language. In the words of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guteres: it is important to recognize “the importance of sign languages for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and fulfilling its core promise of leaving no one behind.”
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities also explicitly states that sign languages are just as important as spoken languages and state parties are obligated to facilitate the learning of sign language and to promote the linguistic identity of the deaf people.
By Edmond Gyebi