- Botswana Society for the Deaf is developing a Dictionary of Sign Language
- Wants Sign taught in schools
- Aims to have people fluent in Sign at service points
Botswana has a long way to go in cultivating an inclusive society that embraces the deaf and hearing-impaired community in today’s fast-paced world that thrives on information sharing, a spokesperson of the Botswana Society for the Deaf (BSD), Carol Kgomotso, has said.
This lack of access to information creates a stumbling block in the livelihoods of the deaf who may miss issues of national interest because they are behind in the information sharing process. “The reality of the deaf community is that they live in a society that excludes them,” Kgomotso said. “This is a concern to us and why we want the voices of the deaf to be treated with the utmost urgency at the national level.”
Because of barriers of communication, it is a huge challenge for members of the deaf community to access routine services like retail store bargains, law enforcement offices and/or health services, she added. “As for entertainment, there is completely no inclusion whatsoever,” Kgomotso noted. “For recreation, most members of the deaf community often get together in the privacy of their homes.”
A huge part of inclusion will entail breaking the communication barrier between the deaf and the hearing-impaired and the rest of society. BSD is currently working on standardising Botswana Sign Language which it would like to have completed by August this year for readiness for inclusion in school curricula for teaching. The Botswana Society for the Deaf Sign Language Dictionary is a project that also aims to create awareness and teach people Sign Language.
“We believe that it is attainable for us to cultivate a nation that includes the deaf and the hearing-impaired in all aspects,” Kgomotso said. “There is a lot of stigma and misconceptions surrounding the deaf, which places an unnecessary burden on them because of the further marginalisation that this causes.”
BSD aspires to see service points across the county made accessible to the deaf community and the hearing-impaired by having people fluent and competent in Sign Language on site. This would aid economic inclusion of the deaf, which is an important goal of BSD. Another goal is improvement of early identification of deafness in people.
“Early identification of deafness offers an opportunity for interventions at an early stage,” said Kgomotso. “But early identification of deafness often fails due to the shortage audiologists in Botswana.”