MPs support call to introduce sign language as national language

The Deputy Minister of International Relations and Corporation, Jenelly Matundu has supported a motion to introduce sign language as a national language as well as the appointment of a sign language interpreter for the live parliamentary debates.

The motion was initially tabled in September by Alexia Manombe-Ncube, the deputy minister of Disability Affairs, who said the motion aligns with Namibia’s constitution and international commitments, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

‘Sign language and deaf culture strengthen multilingualism, and are means of promoting, protecting and preserving the diversity of languages and cultures globally, including in Namibia,’ Manombe-Ncube said.

Matundu on Monday during a parliamentary session argued that the rights of hearing-impaired persons must be secured by securing their linguistic rights.

‘Whether you are deaf, hard of hearing, struggle with the English language or communicate perfectly well, sign language creates a
n open line of communication between all groups of people. Communication in sign language has multiple benefits for the deaf and hard-of-hearing people,’ Matundu said.

She further suggested that government offices and agencies, as well as the private sector, incorporate the basics of sign language for employees, to accommodate hearing-impaired persons.

‘The debates in the National Assembly discuss issues that affect our people daily and the people in this category are left out as far as lack of interpretation is concerned,’ she stressed.

Another parliamentarian, Kletus Karondo also supported the motion, saying the biggest challenge for hearing impaired persons is stigmatisation and day-to-day communication, increased difficulty with accessing primary health care services and the criminal justice system.

Hearing-impaired persons, he said, are not able to serve as jurors.

‘As we are living in a modern digitalised world, where access to information is crucial, Namibia cannot afford to be left behind,’ Karon
do stressed.

Source: The Namibian Press Agency