Deaf and dumb demand a say in constitution

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While the rest of the country prepares to participate in the drafting of a new constitution that is set to begin in May, the deaf and dumb have been conspicuously left out of the process that is supposed to include every Zimbabwean.

According to the National Association for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCO), over 500 000 people in the country are either deaf or dumb or both.

This exclusion from the constitution making process has further alienated them from the society which, according to NASCOH cares little about their welfare.

“The constitution has left out an important sector of the society. People who are either deaf or dumb have always been excluded from national activities and this oversight, unless rectified, means that these people will not be able to express their views in the making of the supreme law of the land,” said NASCO Director Farai Magweva in an interview this week.

Despite the fact that one of the 17 thematic committees in the constitutional-making process is on Disability there were no persons who were either deaf or and dumb in Constitutional Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC)and NASCOH felt that interpreters should be
included in the process so as to communicate with the deaf and dumb.

The deaf and dumb were demanding, among other things in the new constitution, the recognition of sign language. They however do not have the means to communicate since none of the 680 rappoteurs is sign language literate.

“Beyond O-Level there is no further education for the deaf and the dumb. As NASCOH we are advocating for the introduction of a sign language in school curriculums so that society will be able to interact with the deaf and dumb,” said Magweva.