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Call for sign language interpreters at public institutions


Story by Yolanda Moyo

PERSONS with speech and hearing impairments have called for deployment of sign language interpreters at public institutions to enhance communication and access to services.

For her primary education, Rosemary Zhira had to attend a normal primary school although having a hearing impairment.

This affected her education as there was no sign language interpreter at the school to help her in her studies.

The case is the same at a number of public institutions as there are no sign language interpreters to assist the speech and hearing impaired.

With such challenges, calls have been made by people with speech and hearing impairment for public institutions to have sign language interpreters at their stations.

Deaf community advocate Rosemary Zhira noted, ‘‘My primary education experience was a difficult one as l had to be in a school without a special class for people like us. This greatly affected me and until today l believe l could not do better in my education because of that. Lack of sign language interpreters at public institutions is affecting access to basic services at most public institutions and this makes us not included in any thing as there is a communication barrier.’’

With one in four people projected to have hearing problems by 2050, deployment of skilled audiology specialists at public hospitals to cater for people with hearing impairments has been described as key in early detection of the condition.

WIZEAR Programmes Director Lucia Nkomo noted, ‘‘As advocates for people with hearing impairment, under the spirit of devolution we believe that there is a need for audiologists to be stationed in every province so that people can have access in their provinces rather than traveling long distances to get screened or access to the service.’’

Government, working with development partners, is working on integrating ear and hearing care within primary care as an essential component of universal health coverage, with Sally Mugabe Hospital in Harare having opened a pediatric audiology unit in 2021.