Celebrating International Deaf Week: ANASOCI calls for the promotion and popularisation of sign language

Activities marking the celebration of International Deaf Week and International Sign Language Day in Côte d'Ivoire began on Wednesday, 23 September 2020, around the theme "Reaffirming the Human Rights of Deaf People".

An opportunity seized by the National Association of the Deaf of Côte d'Ivoire (ANASOCI) to raise awareness on the importance of sign language for deaf people.

The chairman of the Board of Directors of ANASOCI, Ouattara Yegueleworo said that taking into account the human rights of deaf people is through the popularization of sign language.

"Sign language is a prerequisite, essential to ensure the full participation of deaf people in their communities and to ensure the full realization of their human rights," said Yegueleworo Ouattara raising awareness at the same time.

"It is therefore important that governments support early sign language acquisition through the provision of quality and inclusive bilingual education. In addition, governments must provide and fund professional and trained sign language interpreters to enable the participation of deaf people in society," he added.

Legal recognition of national sign languages as official languages, the ANASOCI CPA continued, is essential for the inclusion of deaf people in their societies.

According to him, "this legal recognition will contribute to the implementation and realisation of the rights enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Agenda 2030 of the Sustainable Development Goals, making the motto 'Nothing for us without us', 'Leave no one behind', a reality".

He also deplored the delay in sign language access for deaf children. "Since 95% of deaf children are born to hearing parents, most of these children are exposed to sign language late in life, which leads to cognitive development and reduces their chances of acquiring language skills. Early access to sign language and quality inclusive education through a national sign language and a national written language for all deaf children is fundamental to ensuring their human rights. To guarantee this right, families of deaf children should receive state-funded sign language education; and this should be provided as soon as possible," he noted.

Regarding deaf elderly people, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of ANASOCI, said that deaf elderly people, ''in the light of international resolutions, do not enjoy their fundamental right to receive information and services in their national sign language''.

As for deaf women, Ouattara Yegueleworo stressed that they "must have the opportunity to enjoy their human rights in all areas of life.

Several other speakers including Koné Krowélé, the first head of the Directorate for the Promotion of Disabled Persons (DPPH), representing the Minister of Employment and Social Protection and Mr. Kouassi Alfred, representing the President of the National Council for Human Rights (CNDH) took the floor.

On the menu of this celebration of International Deaf Week in Côte d'Ivoire, a public press conference is scheduled for Thursday, 24 September. An awareness-raising workshop on sign language and the problems faced by deaf people will take place on Friday 25 September. On Saturday 26 September, a leadership training for 20 young deaf leaders will take place.

Marina N. (www.ivoire-handicap.net)

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