Director dismisses misconceptions about deaf persons

Mr James Sambian, Executive Director of the Ghana National Association of the Deaf has dismissed misconceptions people commonly have about deaf persons.

“In fact, we need to remove the misconceptions that deafness is infectious or a curse, such negative feelings about deaf persons only seeks to reinforce their denial from total inclusion in society and alienation from participating fully in social and economic activities.

Mr Sambian, who was speaking to the Ghana News Agency on misconceptions about deaf persons in Ghana on Friday, said deaf people want to be called “Deaf” and not “hearing impaired” or “hard of hearing or hearing challenged.”

He added: “Deaf people are deaf. They are not Deaf and dumb…terms like deaf and dumb or deaf mute is considered offensive by most deaf people.”

He also explained that speech reading or lip reading is a skill that some deaf persons are good at but some also have difficulty mastering it.

“While good speech reading skill can help in communication, only 26 to 30 per cent of speech is visible on the lips, and even the best speech readers can’t speech read everything that is said,” he added.

He said “deafness is not contagious,” but added: “there is a type of deafness that is genetic and that explains why some deaf people have deaf children.”

However, 90 per cent of deaf people were born to hearing parents and most have hearing children, he said.

According to Mr Sambian, approximately 70 recognised sign languages exist in the world; all of them are incredibly distinct.

He said deaf people in Uganda for example drive, adding that some studies had shown that deaf people are actually better drivers than hearing people, due to the fact that Deaf people have enhanced peripheral vision.

“If you stop and think about it, nothing about driving really requires you to be able to hear. After all there is a reason why emergency vehicles have both sirens and lights,” he added.

Mr Sambian called on policy makers and legislators to chart a new policy direction to address challenges deaf persons encounter in education, jobs, healthcare, justice, politics recreation and their daily activities.

Source: GNA

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