DON’T DI­VIDE PEO­PLE WITH DIS­ABIL­I­TIES, GOVT TOLD

Sunday Observer - - NEWS -

BY ZWELETHU DLAMINI

Mem­bers of the deaf com­mu­nity are con­cerned over gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to en­sure that they ac­cess ser­vices by hir­ing in­ter­preters and pro­vi­sion of hear­ing aids.

Some mem­bers of the deaf com­mu­nity speak­ing dur­ing the re­cent Sibaya (Peo­ple’s Par­lia­ment) ac­cused gov­ern­ment of cre­at­ing di­vi­sions be­tween peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties by pri­ori­tis­ing some groups over the oth­ers.

“There is a host of things that our gov­ern­ment pro­vides for free to other dis­abled peo­ple but the deaf must al­ways dig the pocket deep. They can't fix this be­cause ev­ery term, they elect a new gov­ern­ment with­out peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

For vis­ually im­paired peo­ple, gov­ern­ment pro­vides free walk­ing sticks, traf­fic lights have beep­ing sounds to help them when cross­ing the roads and they en­roll at col­lege and uni­ver­si­ties with­out dis­crim­i­na­tion,” lamented one of the deaf peo­ple.

He added that for those with phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties, gov­ern­ment pro­vides free wheel­chairs and build­ings have been im­proved to ac­com­mo­date ac­cess by per­sons us­ing wheel­chairs. This makes it easy for them to en­ter any build­ing and also en­roll in in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing with­out dis­crim­i­na­tion.

“In the case of peo­ple liv­ing with al­binism, gov­ern­ment pro­vides free oils, hats and they can en­roll at col­lege and uni­ver­si­ties with­out dis­crim­i­na­tion.

How­ever when it comes to the deaf peo­ple, there no free hear­ing aids from gov­ern­ment, you must buy them your­self. Hear­ing aids start from E4 000 up­wards. Many gov­ern­ment of­fices have no sign lan­guage in­ter­preters, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for us to get ser­vice. Our gov­ern­ment has only two sign lan­guage in­ter­preters,” he al­leged.

The source pointed out that if a deaf per­son hires an in­ter­preter he/she must be ready to pay the in­ter­preter yet in­ter­preters are very ex­pen­sive for them as they charge around E350 per hour. “Few com­pa­nies hire deaf peo­ple to in­ter­prete for them but gov­ern­ment doesn’t hire us. Many deaf peo­ple de­pend on gov­ern­ment’s grant which is E80 per month but we get it after three months. We want equal rights and equal op­por­tu­nity.

Be­ing deaf does not make me dumb. I’m smart, I think, I have choice, I have dreams,” laments Fanelo Zikhali on a post of Face­book.

The Fed­er­a­tion of Or­gan­i­sa­tions of Dis­abl e d Peo­ple in S wazil a nd (FODSWA) ear­lier said the Dis­abil­ity Bill be­ing pro­mul­gated ought to com­pel gov­ern­ment to pro­vide for all peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

In March, FODSWA Pres­i­dent Sipho Dlamini said he would en­sure that the Dis­abil­ity Bill com­pels gov­ern­ment to pay for the ed­u­ca­tion of peo­ple with dis­abil­ity all the way up to ter­tiary level. He said FODSWA was ea­gerly wait­ing for par­lia­men­tar­i­ans to pass the bill into law as it has pro­gres­sive and harsh clauses for those who hide peo­ple with dis­abil­ity.

He said as a new pres­i­dent, his pri­or­ity was to em­power peo­ple with dis­abil­ity through ed­u­ca­tion and en­trepreneur­ship. He said not em­pow­er­ing a per­son with dis­abil­ity sub­jects them to per­pet­ual or per­ma­nent poverty and vul­ner­a­bil­ity.

Sim­i­larly, for­mer FODSWA Pres­i­dent Mandla Methula in an in­ter­view re­cently said in as much as gov­ern­ment had to a cer­tain ex­tent taken care of the so­cial wel­fare of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, it has not reached the level they ex­pect. He em­pha­sised on the need for ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion and em­ploy­ment of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties of all forms, in­clud­ing deaf peo­ple.

FODSWA Pres­i­dent Sipho Dlamini and Pres­i­dent Mandla Methula.

for­mer FODSWA

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