By rAwlings otieno
The deaf community has been lagging behind in education and access to information for a long time and now wants the Government to correct the anomaly.
The community, which has more than 600,000 people with hearing impairment across the country, are crying foul at being neglected in accessing quality education and information. Communicating in sign language, Kenya Association of the Deaf official Nickson Kakiri said that the deaf had every right to access information, a right the felt they had been denied over the years by the state.
Kakiri said that the deaf and other people with hearing impairment needed to be empowered since they faced a lot of barriers in communication and thus lagged behind the rest of society in education. "We too have a constitutional right to access information just like any other Kenyans. We must be empowered to get the right information and communicate effectively with hearing aids," said Kakiri.
The official decried the low number of deaf people to graduate from university with degrees and urged the Government to put in place measures to arrest the situation if the deaf were to have an impact in nation building. Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo said the level of HIV and Aids infection among the deaf community was on the rise and called on international organisations to devote themselves to raising awareness in the community.
"There are a number of deaf-accessible facilities for the counselling and testing of HIV within the country. Make use of these facilities," said Mutula. He made the remarks in a speech read on his behalf by his Assistant William Cheptumo at Kenyatta International Conference Centre during the official opening of the International Deaf Awareness Week. The minister called on parents to have their children's hearing tested, adding that the ministry of Education would support Educational Assessment and Resource Centres (EARC) in districts across the country to assess and refer children with such disabilities.
"If the child is deaf or has significant hearing loss, parents should discuss with the EARC the best educational options for their children," he added. Mutula said the Government had continued to experience many challenges in providing adequate teachers trained in the Kenyan Sign Language and termed lack of resources as the main hindrance.
He disclosed that the Task Force on Special Needs Education concluded that schools with learners with hearing impairments needed individual hearing aids, ear moulds, audiometers, speech training units and sign language curriculum. Gender, Children and Social Development PS James Nyikal said that the deaf were the most likely to be less educated among all persons with disabilities.Last Edited: Tue 20th September 2011 at 07:42:24 AM