Deaf Left Behind In Covid-19 Information Dissemination: SLIT

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By Mbekezeli Ncube

WHILE sufficient information on Covid-19 seems to have been given in almost all languages, persons with hearing impairments could still be left behind.

In an interview, Sign Language Interpreter Trust (SLIT) director, Mbiko Nxumalo said even though enough information was seemingly being distributed through posters books and other forms, persons with hearing impairments were still being disadvantaged as a lot of them could not read and write.

“Most deaf people cannot read and write well enough to comprehend this information,” he said.

“The Deaf and Hard of Hearing are especially disadvantaged most since Sign Language is a ‘visual language’ which is very different from other spoken languages that are being used by different governments and institutions to disseminate information on Covid-19,” said Nxumalo.

He said those with hearing impairments were erroneously being clustered together with those with other disabilities.

SLIT has prepared some videos on Covid-19 in Zimbabwe Sign Language and has shared them on different platforms for the benefit of the deaf community which uses the language.

Nxumalo also said even though his organisation has managed to disseminate information on its Facebook page as well as on You Tube, the content reaches a few of them due to economic limitations.

“We have podiums where we distribute information but unfortunately, the deaf cannot access these platforms because of a number of reasons the major one being the high cost of data.

“Another problem is that they might not have the necessary gadgets to access the information.

“We also have a Sign Language Helpline where the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, stakeholders and others are getting in touch with us with their questions on Covid-19 and any other issues they may have,” said Nxumalo.