Give legal backing to sign language – GNAD President

The Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD) has called on the Government to give legal recognition of the Ghanaian Sign Language (GSL) as a native language of the Deaf and hard of hearing people in Ghana.

The association said communication with to the deaf community faced some challenges and believed that legal backing for GSL as done in countries like Uganda, South Africa, USA, and Denmark would help remove the barrier which impeded access to education, health, employment and other social economic activities of the deaf.

The President of GNAD Mr. Matthew Kubachua said this during the commemoration of the International Day of Sign Languages held in Accra last week.

The day which was marked in partnership with the National Association of Sign Language Interpreters- Ghana (NASLIG) was on the theme ‘Recognition of Ghanaian Sign-Language, we Sign for Human Rights’.  It was to also raise awareness of the importance of sign languages and strengthen their statuses.

According to Mr. Kubachua, these barriers existed because of the lack of legal recognition of the Ghanaian Sign Language as the native language of the deaf  in Ghana.

“Government’s effort at disability inclusion can only be achieved when the state recognises Ghanaian Sign Language as one of the native languages and prioritises the use of it in the provision of services,” he said.

He indicated that the legal recognition of Ghanaian Sign Language and the subsequent formulation of modalities in its use for the provision of services for the deaf and Hard of Hearing would improve the socio-economic conditions and quality of life of the deaf.

“On the occasion of International Day of Sign Languages, GNAD wishes to draw the attention of the government to the fact that the revised Persons with Disability Act, Act 715.

“The implementation of the Act holds key to disability inclusion in Ghana and any delay in its passage will deny persons with disabilities their right to enjoy the rights to divinity as citizens of Ghana,” Mr. Kabachua stressed.

He called on the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service to expand access to quality basic and secondary education to as many deaf children as possible through the expansion of existing schools for the deaf, allocation of one of the newly constructed Senior High Schools and the engagement of qualified sign language interpreters in some senior high schools to improve access to inclusive education.

 A lecturer at the Department of  Special Education, University of Education, Winneba,  Dr Daniel Fobi  also said that due to the lack of early ear screening of children, those born deaf  were not detected early until they reached about four or five years.

 This, he said, was detrimental to the growth of the child and affected their performance compared with their hearing counterparts.

 Dr Fobi urged parents to ensure their children were screened early to give deaf children early access to the learning of the sign language.

By Jemima Esinam Kuatsinu

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