Ghanaians with hearing disabilities face challenges in accessing justice

TAMALE: Mr Juventus Duorinaah, Project Officer of the Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD) has indicated that majority of people with hearing disabilities had challenges in accessing the justice system to address the abuse of their rights.

gavel in the hand of a man - graphicHe explained that in a survey conducted by GNAD in the Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions, 58.8 per cent of respondents who were deaf did not know they had rights because state institutions did not provide appropriate support systems that would facilitate both access to justice and information for them.

Mr Duorinaah who was speaking at an advocacy forum in Tamale on Wednesday “Advocating the Rights of Deaf Persons” said 60.7 per cent of respondents claimed that GNAD did not have the means to pay for sign language interpreters to enable people who are deaf access justice while 55.9 per cent said there was inadequate skilled sign language interpreters who could adequately understand deaf people.

He expressed the hope that the situation would improve if the necessary mechanisms were put in place and advised people who are deaf not to lose confidence in the justice system by refusing to make attempts to seek justice if their rights were infringed.

Mr James Sambian, Executive Director of GNAD observed that poor communication between people with hearing disabilities go a long way to impact negatively on education, healthcare, justice, employment, marriage and relationships.

He said according to the 2010 Population census, there were 110,625 deaf and dumb people in Ghana and stressed the need for formal training for Sign Language Interpreters (SLI), which the GNAD had scheduled to partner with the University of Cape Coast to train 30 SLI this year across the country.

Mr Sambian appealed to the Ghana Police Service to arrest and prosecute deaf people who begged for money with GNAD branded envelopes to deter others from doing same.

Alhaji Razak Saani, the Regional Director of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) advised GNAD to advocate complete infusion into the public sector, by putting them under the Department of Social Welfare.

He said the training of people on sign language should also be done at the local level to ensure that illiterate people with hearing disabilities understood the sign language, which would also enable hearing people to have immediate access to training centres.

Mr Seidu Alhassan, a Deputy Chief Investigator at the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), said in an interview with GNA that CHRAJ was mandated to serve all including people with hearing disabilities.

He said abused persons, especially the deaf could report all cases to CHRAJ to address their issues either going to the office or use of fax, email and indicated that its services were free and had good communicators in sign language.

Other stakeholders called on state institutions to discharge their legal mandate as spelt out in the various acts and advised the association to involve the Ghana Institute of Languages in the teaching of the sign language.

Source: GNA

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