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Don’t sideline us—Miss Deaf Africa

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Miss Deaf Africa and Malawi Chimwemwe Kamkwamba has called on the government and various players in the country not to sideline persons with hearing impairment and others with various difficulties when it comes to key information citing among others, coronavirus (Covid-19) and election issues.

Kamkwamba said this on Friday in Blantyre during a press conference organised by Malawi National Association of the Deaf (Manad).

“Most deaf people for instance, use sign language but in most of the events where key information is being relayed for instance on Covid-19 there are no sign language interpreters. We need interpreters so that we also grab the information well. At the moment I can tell you that most deaf people are not aware of Covid-19 and there have been issues to do with lockdown, they don’t know what it means,” Kamkwamba said.

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She said the country needs to step up as far as dissemination of information is concerned and make sure that all people are reached when it comes to key information.

“As an ambassador for deaf people, I call upon the government to help us otherwise we have been sidelined. We are not the only ones, there are also others with other challenges. We are all Malawians and so the target should be to reach out to all. This entails that even media houses have to make it a point to have sign language interpreters to help us,” the Miss Deaf Africa said.

She said that some persons with hearing impairments have been ill-treated and at times beaten because of lack of information on them.

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“If lockdown was effected, surely some deaf people would have found themselves beaten and arrested because of lack of information. We need more information and the government has to connect with Manad and other bodies,” Kamkwamba said.

She said there was need for her and Manad to visit districts to sensitise persons with hearing impairment on Covid-19.

Manad Executive Director, Byson Chimenya, said they held the press conference to voice out their concern on issues of elections and Covid-19 because they have no clear information at the moment.

“We need to know what Covid-19 is all about, the precautionary measures being followed but this has to be done through sign languages which we do not have on the ground. We have sign language interpreters who can be used and so we need the government to engage us,” he said.

Minister of Health, Jappie Mhango, recently during one of the press conferences on Covid-19 updates urged media houses to strive to have sign language interpreters to reach out to all people with the message.

Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology, Mark Botomani, also stressed the need for media houses to have sign language interpreters.

He said the government was committed to make sure that information on Covid-19 is disseminated to all people in the country.

Meanwhile Miss Deaf Africa has also said that a ban on gatherings and the Covid-19 pandemic has affected most of her programmes.

“I had planned to visit schools to reach out to deaf students but now schools are closed with Covid-19 so, I cannot do it now. But I had an interaction recently with students with hearing impairment at Blantyre Secondary School,” Kamkwamba said.

She also said that she will be utilising social media to reach out to the African continent and the world on various issues including Covid-19.

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