By: Louise Jobe

The Gambia Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (GADHOH), join the rest of the World to celebrate 2018 International Week of the Deaf, on Friday 28th September 2018.

The event took place at the GADHOH Head office Kanifing and the theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Sign Language’.

The President of GADHOH Mariama Baldeh, in her remarks said, GADHOH is working hard with partners, to improve the lives of Deaf people in the Gambia; that they have ordinary members in all the Regions of the country and have trained hundreds of Deaf people on Gambian sign language; that the practice is spreading gradually to all Deaf people in the country.

Baldeh indicated that they have been training Sign Language interpreters for more than ten years; that they train interpreters to carry out interpretation services for Deaf people in Schools, Hospitals, broadcast stations for public information, family and community activities, etc. She said these activities are improving the lives of Deaf people in the country, but that more needs to be done. ‘‘GADHOH is only a disable persons’ organisation with members who cannot afford to pay their annual membership contributions. So GADHOH has been all the way relying on external donations, since the work we are doing is very important. Members need support from Government and NGO’s, especially where employment of our trained sign language teachers / researchers and interpreters, are concerned, she said.

Dodou Loum, Executive Director of GADHOH, said there is no census data on the number of deaf people in the country; that one can only estimate the number, by using data from the UN world statistics pocketbook.

He said disable people do not have access to public services which other citizens enjoy; that this lack of access is a problem and not their hearing loss; that services must come to Deaf people in the from accessibility. Loum said those without hearing loss, can rely on the spoken language; that other forms of communication must be used by those with hearing loss, and that it is the State’s responsibility to ensure that deaf people are integrated into society for them enjoy the equal opportunities for the rest of the citizenry; that in doing so, the State must seriously consider sign language development first and foremost.

Gabu Jarju, a senior officer from the Social Welfare department, said the International Week of the Deaf, strives to promote the human rights of deaf people and highlight topics that merit attention; that millions of people in the world, live with disabling hearing loss that could have been prevented or effectively managed through effective ear and hearing care; that exposure to excessive noise and infections such as meningitis, are attributable to this; that hearing loss or deafness, can affect people of age, and that the incident rises as people grow older.

Jarju urged the decision makers to address the problems of hearing loss by allocating suitable resources, and integrating ear and hearing care into health systems, and by building human resource capacity, implementing early identification and intervention programmes and increasing awareness among all sectors of society.

Isatou a member of executive officer of (GADHOH) urged Government to consider the disable; that the people without disability, enjoy all the privileges in the country.

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