By Asheri Ngah & Fru Rita Ngum:
Seven Councils in the NWR in collaboration with the Socio Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disability (SEEPD) programme have trained their community members in basic sign language communication skills with the goal to promote the social inclusion of people with hearing impairment in community life. The trainings took place for two in each of the seven Councils in line with the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 2015 between the SEEPD programme and 20 Councils in the NWR to promote disability and inclusive development.
During the workshop that brought together close to 300 participants, the importance of communicating using Sign Language was highlighted by different facilitators from CBC Integrated School for the Deaf (ISFD) Mbingo and Community Sign Language Field workers working with the Community Based Rehabilitation(CBR) programme of the CBC.
Facilitators in different presentations drilled participants on basic conversation in sign language, fingerspelling, vocabulary building, and simple sentences, amongst others.
Given that most participants were participating in such a workshop for the first time, they attested that they have acquired knowledge which is going to help them communicate with persons with hearing impairment in their homes and community at large. Lessons in the workshop dispelled the myths some of them had about persons with disability and they further understood some of the challenges persons with hearing impairment.
At the end of the workshop, Council officials who were part of the training applauded the resource persons from the CBC Health Services and recommended to the CBCHS that more of such workshops be organized for a longer period of about 3 – 5 days. They also recommended that such a workshop should identify and build the capacities of teachers who are interested in sign language to enable them promote the inclusion of the deaf in their home, school and other places in society.
It should be noted that since the signing of the partnership, Councils in the NWR have been implementing a series of actions in the MoU to promote disability and inclusive development in the region.