Call made to stipulate sign language as the basic right


NJOMBE - At a draft constitution forum organized by Grassroots Women and Youth Development Association in Njombe through the funding from the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS), participants have demanded sign language to be stipulated as the basic right for people with hearing impairment.

On the discussion, the forum participants urged that the new constitution should stipulate that all key publications to be translated in Braille.

They said, people with hearing impairment are missing out on important information since the current system, for example, does not recognize the use of sign languages in the media.

“We need the government to declare through the new constitution that every television station in the country has to incorporate sign language interpreters so as to accommodate the needs of people with hearing impairment. Things are not looking good as of now,” said Joseph Mgaya one of the participant.

Through the funding from the FCS, a total of 254 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in different parts of the country managed to organise and facilitate discussion forums on the draft constitution in August.

This was an opportunity for CSOs to take part in organising and facilitate Constitutional forumsin their localities in order to effectively enhance citizens’ participation in the review, discussion and facilitate inputs on the draft constitution so as – in the end - to have a citizens’ centred constitution.

The forum in Njombe included more than 80 participants above 18 years old, and among them were students from the deaf school and their teachers.

The participants in Njombe thanked the Constitution Review Commission for coming up with a draft constitution, which includes rights of disable people in education. However, they demanded article 44 section (e) of the draft document to emphasize on the need of having classrooms for disable students at least in every public school.

 Their recommendation is that, it is high time person with hearing impairment to have their own classrooms instead of mixing them with other students, and hence ease their steady understanding of studies.

“It is difficult for a teacher to be able to teach a classroom with other children and those with hearing impairment. The latter always tend to be left behind a little bit,” said Maria Ngolo one of the participant.

Also participants’ asked for important social services and amenities like the police stations, Judiciary and hospitals to have sign language interpreters to help the deaf get their rights to service as required.

Even in churches and mosques we are still having problems, since there is no mechanism to help us to worship better,” said Dokfa Ndunguruo one of the participant.

On the discussion about the Union structure, most participants agreed with the three-tier government as proposed in the draft.

They said three governments will help to simplify the work of the President, and help to strengthen democracy in the County.

On her side, sign language interpreter, Agnes Sawela, thanked the Organization for remembering the deaf since they were adequately able to speak out what they want to feature in the new constitution.

At the end, participants asked the new constitution to emphasize on the area of social justice and equality among all citizens towards equal access of social services, regardless of being in rural or urban areas.

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