By Saikou Suwareh Jabai
The Gambia Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (GADHOH) has laid plans to commemorate this year’s International Deaf Week from the 22nd to 23rd September, 2016, under the theme ‘With Sign Language I am Equal’.
Starting on Thursday 22nd September, the members of the association will be holding a march pass from Babung Fatty Junction along the Kombo Sillah Drive in Serekunda and culminating at the GADHOH headquarters in Kanifing Institutional Layout behind the main Serekunda Hospital where participants will be addressed by speakers.
On Friday 23rd September, 2016, the association will stage a symposium on the 2016 theme and drama performances by the GADHOH drama team on the plight of deaf people.
In marking this year’s weeklong celebration, the GADHOH is calling on people around the country to identify deaf people as belonging to a one cultural and linguistic community as well as recognise sign language as their natural language which they need to use to communicate. The association is also calling on the Gambia Government to immediately provide resources for the promotion of the language by training and employing adequate number of sign language teachers and interpreters for public services.
GADHOH is further appealing to the authorities to enable deaf children to acquire sign language knowledge to enable them to have full communication with people, improving their cognitive and social skills, adding that they need access to language from birth.
In the education sector, the association is calling on the authorities to facilitate sign language to be used as language of instruction in all subjects with a parallel strong emphasis on teaching, reading and writing of English Language.
Every year, some 70 million deaf people worldwide celebrate the International Deaf Week. It is recognised by the United Nations and is meant to draw attention of society on deaf related issues as well as disseminate information on deaf people and deafness for the purpose of promoting their human rights and full participation in society.