THE deaf community in Lesotho will use this week’s International Deaf Week commemorations to highlight some of the challenges they encounter on a daily basis including lack of access to health services, education and unemployment opportunities.
The local commemorations will be held in Berea on Thursday and the National Association of the Deaf Lesotho (NADL) Chairperson, Bongiwe Buzi, said they will use the occasion to sensitise the public about the importance of sign language and inform them about the daily challenges deaf people encounter.
Ms Buzi said they missed out on important information due, adding some ended up dying of AIDS-related illnesses due to their inability to effectively communicate with health personnel and the rest of the community.
Ms Buzi said there was only one deaf school in Lesotho which was not capable of accommodating all learners.
She said that conventional ordinary schools lacked qualified staff to cater for the needs of deaf learners.
“Only five of our members are enrolled in tertiary institutions and while a few of us have certificates from various tertiary institutions, we are still unemployed because we are deaf.
Even at home, our relatives make decisions on the things that directly affect us but we are unable to refuse because of we are deaf,” Ms Buzi said, adding some of their challenges could be resolved by adopting sign language as an official language along with English and Sesotho.
“We want sign language to be given official language status so that we are not left behind. Lesotho is behind in this respect as many countries have made it an official language.
“We also want those people who are not deaf to learn sign especially people who are service providers so that we are able to get assistance.”
She also accused government of reluctance in utilising the interpretation courses and services her association offered.
She said they offered one-year courses for everyone interested and upon completion they award motivational certificates as they are still working with the ministry of education towards accreditation.