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Predicament of Deaf Persons in Accessing Healthcare

Part One

The central challenge facing the deaf in Ghana is that of exclusion from both the economic, political and social spheres of society.

The different barriers to participation relate to prejudice, perception and poverty. But what is unique to the deaf in Ghana is their paramount problem relating to communication. The deaf have specific needs concerning communication and many deaf grow up without contact to other deaf people. Some families do not include their deaf members in family activities due to a language barrier leaving the deaf person isolated, sometimes without a language. It is only through the medium of sign language that a deaf person can enjoy and exercise their human rights and play an active role in society.

If the government does not recognize sign language as an official language in Ghana, how can a deaf child be educated to a standard which will enable them to get a job, enjoy economic independence and play a full role in public and political life? GNAD’s proposed initiative ‘Equal access to information and communication for the deaf in Ghana’ seeks to train nurses, doctors and health professionals in Ghanaian Sign Language to bridge the communication gap between the Deaf and nurses as well as doctors. The training will also empower the deaf to fully exercise their equal rights, enable them to have access to quality health care and release them to play a full role in society as outlined in Act 715, Persons with Disability Act, 2006. There are 3 core problems that the initiative seeks to address:

Access to quality health care

The current communication barriers prevent the deaf from accessing their human rights at every level; basic human rights such as health care, access to education and even freedom of speech are currently not enjoyed by the majority of the deaf in Ghana. The UN Convention of Persons with Disability clearly outlines the rights of the disabled, but it is only through the medium of sign language that the deaf are able to enjoy these rights. If the government accepts that Ghana Sign Language training is provided to selected nurses and doctors at the Ridge Hospital and other hospitals, in Ghana, it will be obliged to ensure that correct healthcare service is provided to Deaf people who visit hospitals. The training will be a means of provision which will be made for the interpretation of information, appropriate education and enable the deaf to access better healthcare.

The deaf face a communication barrier which restricts their ability to play a full role in society. Many members of the deaf community in Ghana have not had the opportunity to attend hospitals as a result of the communication barriers they may face. As a result of this communication barrier, the deaf are restricted in their ability to partake in economic activity which only serves to reinforce their marginalized position in society. The deaf are restricted from acquiring information related to healthcare such as family planning, HIV/AIDs. If the Ghanaian government via the Ghana Health Service recognizes Ghanaian Sign Language as the official language of the deaf in Ghana and allow nurses and doctors to be trained, they will enable the deaf to enjoy a quality health and partake in society at every level.

By George Pinto
(Ghanaian Sign Language Interpreter / Instructor)


One Response to “Predicament of Deaf Persons in Accessing Healthcare”

  1. I am really touched by your publication.
    I hope government does something meaningful about the plight of deaf people in Ghana. God bless you for championing the cause of the deaf
    . More grease to your elbows.

    Posted by Eric Asare | 28/05/2017, 7:00 am

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