Malawi Commits to Promote Sign Language

By Moses Nyirenda

Lilongwe, September 22, Mana: Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati, says government is committed to promoting sign language as one way of addressing communication challenge among the deaf in the country.

She made the remarks on Monday in Lilongwe during the launch of International Week of the Deaf and International Day of Sign Languages which falls on September 23rd every year and the last full week of September respectively.

Kaliati said promoting sign language would help to remove communication barriers among the deaf hence allowing them to fully participate in social economic development activities of the country.

“For deaf people to meaningfully take part in community activities hence the importance of sign language as a medium of communication. Without sign language, communities will continue to exclude deaf people in social economic development activities.

“In such a case, as government, we are committed to make sure that sign language is fully developed in the country for deaf people to enjoy equally all human rights as enshrined in our Republican Constitution and support in the development of the country,” Kaliati said.

Government through the Ministry of Gender is eyeing to employ sign language interpreters in all places that offer services to the general public such as hospitals, television stations and churches in an effort to allow the deaf to easily access information and services.

The Ministry in conjunction with Malawi National Association of the Deaf (MANAD) is in talks with Development Partners to support the training of sign language interpreters in the country.

“We are currently discussing with Development Partners to support the training of sign language interpreters. This program aims to bridge the communication gap that is currently being faced between the deaf and service providers,” she said.

In his remarks MANAD Vice Chairperson, Charles Mtambo, commended government for its interest in promoting the rights of the deaf in the country.

“We are delighted for government’s gesture towards promoting the rights of the deaf in the country. This will make us feel accepted and welcomed as partners in the development of the country and the disability fraternity,” Mtambo said. 

United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, Maria Jose Torres, said that UN is devoted to support the government in building up its disability agenda in order to promote equal human rights in the country and achieve sustainable development goals.