SIGN LANGUAGE EDUCATION PROMOTING INCLUSIVITY

By KUDAKWASHE. E. ZIHONYE

Hearing impaired Zimbabweans’ inclusion has improved tremendously as educational institutions such as the University of Zimbabwe through curriculum education 5.0 has made it mandatory for most undergraduates to study languages of their choice; both foreign and local. These languages including Zimbabwe Sign language. Most of the faculties and departments have already made it mandatory for their students to choose a language to study including Zimbabwe languages , French , Chinese , Germany, Portuguese and many more.

This is a positive move by the University of Zimbabwe as it is a step towards the inclusion of hearing impaired Zimbabweans. Because of this, communication with the hearing especially on service provision is improving. People studying different degrees such as Medicine, Accounting, Film, Disaster Management, Social Work or Arts are choosing sign language. These undergraduates who are specializing in different careers, are working towards easy communication between hearers and deaf people.

Communication between hearers and non hearers has been very difficult as most Zimbabweans have no basic knowledge of sign language. Arguably, this has hindered service provision when deaf people visit hospitals, council offices, courts, banks or police stations.The promotion of Sign Language is a great stride towards the inclusion of deaf people as most of them do not have interpreters to efficiently explain what they would be saying. University of Zimbabwe Sign language lecturer Mr Matende said most faculties are already doing Sign Language as a module. This is true of the faculties of Medicine, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Arts, Humanities and many others. However, Faculty of Law has not yet started doing languages. It is expected to start in the near future.

 

“Studying Zimbabwe Sign Language in different faculties is crucial as it promotes intercultural communication among people and efficient communication with the deaf,”

said MR MATENDE

In Zimbabwean, Sign Language has mostly been taught to people who have hearing impairment and is usually used for communication amongst themselves. It also helps the undergraduates to efficiently practise in their area of study as they will be no one excluded from whatever discussions will be taking place. A lot of deaf people have been complaining about lack of interpreters in different institutions. Therefore, as more people learn Sign Language, it is going to be easier to find someone who can interpret.

Tadiwa who is studying Creative Design and Animation said that learning Sign Language is very important to him as it improves entertainment provision for deaf people.

“Everyone has a right to entertainment in terms of visual animation and advertisements. Most deaf people are excluded. Because I’m learning Sign Language, I will be able to do advertisements and animations in Sign Language”

said TADIWA

The government should also work towards introducing Zimbabwean Sign Language to high school students because not everyone gets the chance to study it at university.

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