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Association advocates for indigenous sign language recognition

2020-09-16  Nuusita Ashipala

Association advocates for indigenous sign language recognition
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ONGWEDIVA - As the world celebrates National Month of the Deaf, the Namibian National Association of the Deaf (NNAD) is pleading for the Namibian Sign Language (NSL) to be recognised as an indigenous language in the country.
National Executive Director at NNAD Paul Nanyeni said recognising sign language as an indigenous language will ensure that many people will have access to it.
He said it will also further promote research of deaf related issues which is currently limited.

Nanyeni said the government has a daunting task to ensure that NSL is promoted and made accessible everywhere as per the disability policy.
“It is not only deaf persons who need sign language, families of the deaf, friends of the deaf and service providers all need it for inclusion; sign language is for everyone,” said Nanyeni.
The deaf month is celebrated yearly in September to raise awareness about the rights of deaf persons.
This year, the deaf month is celebrated under the theme ‘Sign Language is for everyone’.
Nanyeni said this year’s theme requires government to change the current status quo to ensure that sign language is preserved, developed and harnessed amongst the hearing communities.

“It is a language that everyone can learn.  It is a language that can be used to express feelings, ideas and emotions.  It’s a language that identifies the user and their cultural traits,” said Nanyeni.
Namibia has approximately 27 000 deaf people.

At the moment, the deaf community continue to be disadvantaged.
According to Nanyeni, access to information, training funding, limited interpreters are still a challenge.
He added that even parents with deaf children are failing to take deaf lessons to ensure effective communication with their children.
Nanyeni said the Namibian deaf community also continues to be sidelined as there are no regional interpreters to assist the deaf with the information shared daily.
“Even accessibility to information during this Covid-19 is not fully accessible, but it is our wish that the current status quo is improved,” said Nanyeni.
Nanyeni has appealed to the Namibian nation at large to make it their duty to learn the sign language.

2020-09-16  Nuusita Ashipala

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