The chairperson of the Namibian National Association of the Deaf (NNAD), Linekela Nanyeni, has called on government to pass a law that will make it mandatory for public and private institutions to employ sign language interpreters at all their offices countrywide.
“Access to information through the availability of sign language interpretation services and the use of sign language in public places, such as the parliament, national council and other national events is a basic human right,” he said.
He made the call yesterday while addressing those who had gathered to celebrate the International Month of the Deaf People in the capital, where Vice President Nickey Iyambo was the keynote speaker.
Nanyeni said recognition of Namibian sign language as the language of deaf people and its status should be promoted just like any other indigenous language. He said government should honour its commitment and work – as stipulated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – to provide quality services to all deaf people.
“We want financial resources to train and provide sign language interpreters in schools, parliament, banks and other public places, such as healthcare centres,” he said, “for an inclusive society where deaf and other people with disabilities enjoy access to information, freedom of speech, like other people without disabilities.”
Furthermore, Nanyeni used the opportunity to call on Vice President Iyambo to facilitate the speedy transfer of the Division of Rehabilitation from the Ministry of Health and Social Services.
“The transfer of the Division of Rehabilitation from the Ministry of Health and Social Services to your office under the Directorate of Disability Affairs is long overdue,” he said. “It’s our sincere plea to you to facilitate this transfer where the plight of deaf people and other projects meant to support our activities will be fully implemented and addressed.”