Disability event: no interpreter for deaf

2015-03-28 00:00

A FAUX pas on the part of the KZN Premier’s Office had them hosting a provincial disability summit without a sign language interpreter this week.

Less than a week after celebrating Human Rights Day, Premier Senzo Mchunu’s office held a disability summit in Imbali on Wednesday and Thursday, where deaf delegates were made to watch Mchunu speak without a sign language interpreter.

Disabled People South Africa provincial manager Thami Nkosi said one of their representatives, Vusi Dlamini, who was present at the summit and not a professional sign language interpreter, tried to assist the disgruntled deaf delegates by signing as best he could.

“Vusi was not mandated by the Premier’s Office to interpret; in fact, the office did not procure an interpreter at all for Wednesday and Thursday’s summit.

“Vusi took it upon himself to try and assist the deaf delegates when he saw how upset they were when no sign language interpreter was present,” he said.

Nkosi said he had advised the Premier’s Office on Wednesday to hire an interpreter, but said it was apparent they had not considered what DPSA had told them.

“It is an embarrassment to the deaf sector. They wanted to know what the premier had to say, but were left sitting without understanding what was being said.”

South African National Deaf Association (Sanda) member Sicelo Dlamini said they had held several meetings with the government to discuss similar issues and asked the government to work with deaf associations in hiring interpreters.

“We want the government to take this seriously.”

KwaZulu-Natal Deaf and Blind Society deputy chair Nad Ramsarup said they were shocked that the government had not learned from past mistakes.

“We are devastated that yet again the basic rights of the deaf were violated and not even a week after South Africa celebrated Human Rights Day.”

Provincial government spokesperson Thami Ngwenya said on Thursday that Mchunu wanted the summit reconvened as it was not representative of the province’s demographics.

“He noted the protests by a section in the meeting representing the deaf. All these concerns informed our view that the meeting could not continue in its current form as it could not achieve what government would like to achieve,” he said.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

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