What’s Stopping You From Learning Sign Language

What’s Stopping You From Learning Sign Language

By Rashiwe Chipurunyenye
What is stopping you from learning sign language? That is the question each of us should be asking ourselves.

From Monday (September 19) until Sunday (September 25) – the world is celebrating International Week of the Deaf.

The day is celebrated by the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and its national associations, and their affiliates globally during the last full week of September, culminating with International Day of the Deaf on the last Sunday of the week.

The focus is on improving the rights of deaf persons, the status of national sign languages, access to education, and access to information technology and services. This gives greater attention to deaf culture and the achievements of deaf people.

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Nhau/Indaba spoke to Chipo Basopo, the director of Chipawo, an organisation spearheading a programme known as Creative Corridors.

Through the programme, it aims to raise awareness on the inclusion of children with disabilities socially, economically and politically.

Said Basopo: “Section 4 of Chapter 6 of the Zimbabwean Constitution states that ‘the State must promote and advance the use of all languages used in Zimbabwe, including Sign Language, and must create conditions for the development of those languages’.

“With focus firmly on deafness and deaf people buoyed by provisions of a national Constitution, Creative Corridors, with the aim of including children with disabilities in different socio-economic aspects of life, urges Zimbabweans to take a stand and spread deaf awareness on education, sign language and access to technology.”

Inclusion seeks to address the impact of hearing loss on everyday life, specifically in environments where those that are deaf or hard of hearing feel isolated. These areas include work, education, health or socially.

“Chipawo works with children with disabilities from different provinces of Zimbabwe to raise awareness on their inclusion socially, economically and politically. Our project, My Story Our Story, with support from NORAD and UNICEF, has seen us work with children from Emerald Hill School, who are famous for signing the national anthem of Zimbabwe,” said Basopo.

“Furthermore, Chipawo has managed to capture the experiences of deaf children in marginalised areas such as Hwange Lukosi, particularly how much they are in need of assistance. In celebrating the International Week of the Deaf, Chipawo will be airing footage of different deaf children we have interacted with during Creative Corridors as well as My Story Our Story.

“These children have amazing stories to share- Onai who is deaf and dump can weave and sow without anyone’s assistance while Emerald Hill’s deaf children can groove to the beats like no other etc.

“These stories show how some of the children became deaf and how they were accepted by the community. Will you allow them to share with you without a translator? Will you allow them to be as technical with you and will you give them access to education friendly to them? Let’s work on including the deaf in our everyday life, starting with learning sign language as communication is key.”


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