DON’T DIVIDE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, GOVT TOLD
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.