Lack of captions ­isolates, marginalises

2017-02-22 06:00

The National Council for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) has expressed dismay with parliament’s failure to make provision for persons with disabilities in the broadcast of the State of the Nation Address on Thursday, 9 February.

Delivery of this highly anticipated address by Pres. Jacob Zuma was marred by violence, police invading parliament and opposition party members hurling insults.

Therina Wentzel, national director of the NCPD, said the organisation had been promised that provision would be made during this year’s state of the nation address after raising concerns about the exclusion of persons with disabilities.

“We were promised that 2017 would be the year in which the state of the nation address would be broadcast with captions, making it accessible to these almost 1,5 million to 2 million people.”

Because this has not happened, she said it is contrary to the pro-mise that had been made.

“We are deeply disappointed that, once again, the broadcasting of the state of the nation address ignored the rights of almost 2 million people with hearing loss.

“The White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2015) is clear on this issue.

“There are approximately 3 million to 3,5 million persons with disabling hearing loss in South Africa.

“Of this, 1,5 million to 2 million do not use sign language as their primary means of communication,” Wentzel said in a statement issued.

“We are very upset by the exclusion of some of our population.

“Exclusion is a serious matter that socially isolates or marginalises individuals or groups by not allowing or enabling them to fully participate and be included in society and enjoy the same rights and privileges as others.”

“We believe that captioning is a constitutional right.

”We urge all broadcasters to take the appropriate measures, particularly when broadcasting issues of national importance such as the state of the nation speech,” she said.

Wentzel said the appropriate portion of the White Paper cited above, was paragraph “Access to Information”.

“We have 17 national organisations representing persons with hearing loss who are working together under leadership of the NCPD.

“Fanie du Toit, a deaf person, is leading our group to put forward a position paper which refers to the violations of rights and quoting relevant legislation.

“We are using every avenue available to us to put pressure on the government to stop discrimination and excluding people with hearing loss.

“The NCPD sees this as a very serious matter.

“This organisation will not stop until we see to it that people with hearing loss have the right to access to information and communications,” she said.

Wentzel said the NCPD did not receive any explanation for what had happened.

“This is the very same thing that happened in 2013 at Nelson Mandela’s funeral,” she said.

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