Prioritise sign language: Zimbabwe government urged

Lifestyle Zimbabwe

Ishmael Ndlovu

THE Sign Language Interpreters Association of Zimbabwe (SLIAZ) has called on Government to promote and advance the use of all languages used in Zimbabwe, including sign language, and to create conditions for the development of those languages.

In a statement to mark the beginning of the International Week of the Deaf, SLIAZ Chairperson, Professor Lincoln Hlatshwayo, said persons who are deaf are the fourth largest group of the disabled population in Zimbabwe and deserve recognition.

SLIAZ Chairperson Professor Lincoln Hlatshwayo

“The deaf form 11% of the disabled Zimbabwean population and yet they are the least visible in school settings, particularly at ECD and secondary level, employment, vocational training centres, colleges and universities,” Professor Hlatshwayo said.

He said they are often denied enrolment and employment based on the unavailability of services delivered in sign language.

Professor Hlatshwayo said this is despite the fact that sign language is one of the 16 constitutionally recognised official languages in the country.

Zimbabwe, on September 23, 2013, ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, but people with disabilities feel it is still a long way for them to be accorded their full rights as citizens.

The mandate of the Sign Language Interpreters Association of Zimbabwe is to complement Government efforts in advocating for the inclusion of the deaf in educational, health, social, judicial, political and economic activities, through the provision of quality and professional sign language interpretation services.

September 23 is International Day of Sign Languages, and September 23 to 30 is International Week of the Deaf.