Uniform sign language planned for Africa

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Tue Jan 15 14:32:37 UTC 2008

Date: 14 Jan 2008-
Uniform sign language planned for Africa

Harare - The African Rehabilitation Institute (ARI) plans to develop a
uniform sign language for sub-Saharan Africa to facilitate communication
among people with hearing and speech impairments. Regional rehabilitation
officer Engelbert Makanjera said the institute wanted to ensure that people
with hearing and speech impairments would be able to communicate when they
travelled to countries in the region.  "We want to have a co-ordinated
approach to sign language," said Mr Makanjera.  "Sign language should not
get into conflict with that of other countries."  He said that with the
increasing economic activities and relaxation of visa requirements between
countries in the region, more people with hearing and speech impairments
were joining the ranks of cross border traders.

It was important that a uniform sign language be developed to make it easy
for these people to conduct their business in foreign countries. Studies
have shown that each country in the region has its own sign language and
people from other countries often experience difficulties to communicate
without an interpreter.  Mr Makanjera said the institute would work with the
National Associations of People With Disabilities from the different
countries to develop the uniform sign language.  The ARI would this year
push for development of national disability policies in the regional
countries to address challenges facing people with disabilities.

"We need national policies in the countries to address issues affecting
people with disabilities," he said. Some of the issues the policy would
address included mainstreaming disability issues in all government
ministries, introduction of a quota system for people with disabilities in
learning institutions and for employment as well as making it mandatory for
all buildings to provide wheelchair ramps for easy accessibility by such
people. Zimbabwe has made strides in improving the conditions of people with
disabilities. The Disability Act prohibits discrimination based on physical
appearances. -


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