Sign language a must for police, public officials

16Jul 2019
Polycarp Machira
The Guardian
Sign language a must for police, public officials

CIVIL servants in key sectors all over the country could end up taking up sign language courses to enhance inclusivity in service delivery, if a call by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs is embraced.

Jacob Kingu.

Speaking here at the weekend, Jacob Kingu called on all public offices in the country to adopt the use of sign language, saying people with hearing disabilities deserve equal treatment when seeking services at all levels.

He expressed concern that for a long time this group of people has found it difficult to access services in government and other public offices, unless there are sign language experts.

The PS who was officiating at a one-day seminar to sensitize the public on the use of sign language noted that the public should be cautious on the needs of people with disabilities, especially the deaf.

The meeting organized by the Tanzania Association of the Deaf (CHAVITA) via Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) funding was aimed at discussing the importance of sign language use at all public offices.

It brought together officers from the police force, immigration department, prisons and other stakeholders.

He noted the deaf have the ability to contribute socially, politically and economically to nation building and should not be treated as less fortunate people. There is need to have an inclusive society where no Tanzanian feels sidelined, he declared.

"As members of the society they should feel accepted within our community and being able to contribute to society in a meaningful way, through participation in mainstream activities and exercising basic rights," he said.

As the nation heads to the local government elections and the next general elections next year, the relevant authorities should take measures to enable the deaf participate fully since it is their constitutional right, he stated.

Speaking at the same meeting, the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the President's Office (Good Governance), Amon Mpanju observed that the deaf community faces serious challenges in being ensured basic constitutional rights.

Law enforcers hardly understand that there are people with hearing disabilities among the public, thus resort to using force against them simply because they do not heed instructions, he pointed out.

"It is increasingly becoming common to hear that a deaf person finds it difficult to even launch complaints at a police station for violence against such person," he said, emphasizing that police stations and prisons should recruit sign language experts.

In his vote of thanks, Kwimba OCD Anthony Masanzu affirmed that the police force has started taking actions aimed at ensuring that the deaf access their services without undue problems.

Various stakeholders have conducted the needed seminars to police, while a breadth of officers took short courses in sign language, to end the challenge facing this group of people, in accessing vital public services, he added.

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