The Gambia Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (GADHOH) on Monday celebrated International Deaf Week (IDW) at its headquarters in Kanifing.
The International Week of the Deaf is an initiative of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and it was first launched in 1958 in Rome, Italy. Since then, it is celebrated annually by the global deaf community.
Speaking at the event, Dodou Loum, the Executive Director of GADHOH, stated that the new Education Policy (2016-2030) promises the deaf people better access to education opportunities.
He however noted that still now policies have failed to put emphasis on sign language strategy, without which, he stressed, deaf people cannot make any real use of the education opportunities.
Loum maintained that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability recognises the socio-cultural approach to solution of the deaf people’s marginalisation and exclusion from participation in their societies. He noted that states therefore have the obligation to do research on their national sign languages, develop learning materials and curriculum on it, train adequate number of teachers and interpreters and even employ them in public service.
Emily Sarr, representative of the United Nations Development Programme, revealed that commemorating the week is important as it helps to highlight an issue that is directly affecting the deaf in the public discourse, with a view to creating greater awareness and better understanding of the challenge and how best to respond to it.
Sarr added that the commemoration of the week creates opportunities to mobilise support, promote accessibility and embark on the removal of their societal barriers impeding the progress and wellbeing of the deaf, thus the need to provide sign language training for the deaf and hard of hearing people.
Abdoulie Njie, the President of GADHOH urged members to leave up to expectations, noting that they should be strong and be ready to participate in national development.
He affirmed that deaf people with skills should be encouraged to take up self-employed businesses and if possible form groups of similar interest to do business.
by Jainaba D. Jatta
& Awa Gassama