21 February 2017

Deaf association develops directory for sign language interpreters


Students of State School for the Deaf

The Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD) has developed a directory for sign language interpreters (SLIs) in line with universal sign language interpretation for the deaf.

The association was established in 1968 and registered as a non-profit organisation to assist the deaf community in the country with access to education and information as a means of achieving improved standard of living and security of life.

The SLI, which has a membership of about 100 people, is advocating the removal of language and communication barriers impeding the living conditions of the deaf in society.

Meanwhile, the SLIs are keen on helping to create awareness of issues affecting the deaf and ensuring that the deaf participate in and have access to socio-economic activities in the country.

SLIs critical

At a forum to educate SLIs on the ethics of their work at Akyawkrom in the Ejisu-Juaben Municipality in the Ashanti Region, the Executive Director of the GNAD James Sambian, said SLIs were a critical part of the deaf community and  were required to facilitate communication between the deaf and their hearing counterparts.

He said the service of SLIs, just like translators of spoken languages, empowered the deaf and enabled them to participate in mainstream activities on equal basis as other members of society.

He noted that sign language interpretation service ensured that the deaf were able to voice their views and contribute meaningfully to decision making.

He also said it was important for the GNAD to invest in interpretation services in order to address communication needs of the deaf community.

Providing skilled SLIs

Mr Sambian observed that it was often a challenge for the deaf to find the services of skilled SLIs, and that the directory had as such come at an opportune time.

He expressed worry over the difficulty in finding people who could communicate fluently in the Ghanaian sign language, even though there were many around and said such a situation made it difficult to get the deaf to become involved in many socio-economic activities.

“GNAD is encouraging those who need the services of interpreters to arrange with the association in advance to enable them to prepare and adjust their time,” he said.

He advised SLIs to never divulge information about their clients unless compelled to do so by a court of competent jurisdiction and to not also use privileged information for personal gain.

He added that SLIs should be as neutral as possible when they were interpreting and make sure to arrive at functions on time in order not to disturb seating arrangements.

“It should be noted that sign language interpretation services for deaf people are legal duties imposed on duty bearers and service providers under the Ghana Persons with Disability (PWD) Act, Act 715 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of PWD, to which Ghana is a signatory,” he added.


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