By Paidashe Mandivengerei
AS THE Covid-19 information and resources are disseminated across the country, it has been noted that persons with disabilities (PWD) have been overlooked in their communities.
Covid-19 pandemic awareness campaigns have proved to be accessible to everyone else but minus the deaf and visually impaired, with very little to no effort being made by the authorities to provide this data in forms they too understand.
Fliers, booklets, television and radio programmes among others on the novel coronavirus are available providing statistics, vaccination data, debunking myths, lockdown updates but PWD have found all these of no use when they are not provided in Braille or accompanied by a sign language interpreter.
In an interview with NewZimbabwe.com, Saturday, Disability Amalgamation Community Trust (DACT) director Henry Chivhanga bemoaned the exclusion of PWD from the fight against Covid-19.
“For the visually impaired information has not largely been in Braille for them to get sufficient information about Covid-19, those who are deaf needed information in sign language and that has really been a difficulty,” he said.
“People communicating or disseminating information on shows talking about Covid-19 do not have sign language interpreters hence some of them lack that access to information on Covid-19,” he said.
As a result of this exclusion in accessing information, people living with disabilities have failed to make informed decisions on the Covid-19 inoculation which is currently in its second out of three stages of the national vaccination programme. In the end, they simply follow the crowd or base on the judgment of those around them.
The Chinese invented Covid-19 Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines administered in Zimbabwe have been met with a lot of skepticism as people doubt their efficacy.
Efforts to curb this have been made through awareness campaigns which, however, largely ignore the needs of the deaf and visually impaired.
According to Chivhanga, this has resulted in some hesitancy to get Covid-19 vaccine shots among people with disabilities.
“Persons with disabilities are unable to make decisions regarding the Covid-19 vaccination, they would need more information so that they can make a decision on whether to be vaccinated or not to, be because if you do not give them information using the appropriate media then that is a big challenge so they will always lag behind and see what others will do then follow later.”