Hear­ing-im­paired peo­ple seek govt help get­ting ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - News - HTIKE NANDA WIN thanhtoo@mm­times.com

Hear­ing-im­paired peo­ple in Myan­mar are ask­ing the gov­ern­ment to help them get bet­ter ac­cess to news and in­for­ma­tion, said U Kyaw Kyaw, pro­gram direc­tor of the Myan­mar Deaf Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion.

The hear­ing-im­paired com­mu­nity is call­ing on the main­stream broad­cast me­dia, in­clud­ing the gov­ern­ment-run MRTV and the Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion to make their broad­casts un­der­stand­able to the deaf, U Kyaw Kyaw said Tues­day at the launch of the “En­sur­ing Rights to Ac­cess to In­for­ma­tion for Deaf and Hear­ing Im­paired Peo­ple Project” in Yan­gon.

The project, sup­ported by USAID and the non-gov­ern­men­tal group, fhi360, which works with those with hear­ing dis­abil­i­ties, will run through un­til July 2018.

The ini­tia­tive will in­clude co­or­di­na­tion and ad­vo­cacy meet­ings with stake hold­ers, aware­ness rais­ing and pol­icy en­gage­ment.

“The project’s goal is to im­prove the con­di­tions of ac­cess to news and me­dia in­for­ma­tion by the hear­ing-im­paired pop­u­la­tion in Myan­mar” he said.

In Myan­mar, dis­abil­ity is clas­si­fied into four cat­e­gories – phys­i­cal dis­abil­ity, vi­sion im­pair­ment, hear­ing im­pair­ment and in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­ity.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2014 Myan­mar cen­sus, 4.6 per­cent of the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion over 51 mil­lion peo­ple live with a dis­abil­ity. Of this 1.3 per­cent have hear­ing im­pair­ment, or roughly over 650,000 peo­ple.

The gov­ern­ment has sev­eral pro­grammes to help hear­ing im­paired peo­ple.

The Min­istry of So­cial Wel­fare, Re­lief and Re­set­tle­ment has opened more sign lan­guage classes since 2015, but this is not enough, ac­cord­ing to U Aung Kyaw Moe, direc­tor of the So­cial Wel­fare Depart­ment.

He said the min­istry has other fi­nan­cial needs to help other un­der­priv­i­leged sec­tors of the so­ci­ety, so it can­not pro­vide all the as­sis­tance needed by deaf peo­ple.

“The right to ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion is one of the most fun­da­men­tal sup­port for the well-rounded de­vel­op­ment of hear­ing-im­paired peo­ple,” he said.

U Kyaw Yu, a hear­ing-im­paired per­son said, “Sign lan­guage is our mother lan­guage. It is the only one lan­guage to com­mu­ni­cate with the world for us.”

He noted that al­though the gov­ern­ment’s tele­vi­sion news sec­tion has a seg­ment that in­ter­prets re­ports in sign lan­guage, the screen size of the in­ter­preter is very small, so they could not be un­der­stood clearly.

“We want to un­der­stand all TV pro­grams, not just the news,” he said.

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