Disability champions have called for sign language studies to be instilled into the basic education curriculum to help with better socialization and belonging among the deaf population.
They pointed to the absence of sign language in the school curriculum as a major factor in increased linguistic stigma, marginalization and discrimination, particularly against deaf children.
The Champions made the call at a Disability Advocacy Review Meeting designed to develop workable course-correction strategies and recommendations for adoption by various Metropolitan Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).
The event was jointly organized by Hope for Future Generation (HFFG) and The Psykforum, two non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
The meeting was part of the Social and Behavior Change Communication and Stigma Reduction for Mental Health and Disability Inclusion (SBCC) project under the Ghana Somubi Dwumadzi Project.
Leading a panel discussion, Reverend Ken Goode, Regional Secretary of the Ghana Federation for the Disabled (GFPD), said schools did not have a clear policy standardizing the use of sign language in schools. ordinary and specialized for the deaf.
According to him, this has turned teaching and learning on its head, where teachers have taken various approaches that they found practical for themselves.
He added that if the use of sign language could gain legal support, efforts to ensure disability inclusion in Ghanaian society would be made possible.
Regarding the provision of disability-friendly facilities, the Secretary said that ramps, lifts, car parks and all other necessary facilities must be made available to persons with disabilities.
He hastened to point out that schoolchildren with disabilities should in no way be excused from participating actively in sports activities in schools if their conditions allow it.
He said that in the future, derogatory names, stigmatization and all forms of exploitation against persons with disabilities must lead to sanctions, urging MMDAs to draft implementing laws to protect the marginalized of the society.
“No child or person should be killed because of their disability, sexual exploitation for financial gain, let’s stop describing PWDS by their conditions when they have names, this is the right direction to go if effectively we want to create stigma free Ghana,” he added.
Ms. Vivian Ama Aubyn, Board Member of Psykforum, said that these recommendations should be a wake up call for all, especially lawmakers in others, to make Ghana a better place for all.
She further urged disability champions not to give up on their position on the safety, health and inclusion of people with disabilities.