FRANCISTOWN: The Director of Botswana Association of the Deaf (BOAD), Shirley Keoagile has revealed that the deaf people have been left out of the conversation during COVID-19 pandemic.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has affected thousands of people around the country. But the deaf community have been left far behind with communication as their obvious hurdle due to the public compulsory protocol of wearing masks at all the time.
Whilst wearing a mask is one of the set of rules meant to control COVID-19, it is a bitter truth that remains a challenge for the deaf community who depend on lip-reading as a form of communication.
When giving an overview of challenges faced by the deaf community during the COVID-19 pandemic, Keoagile said that there were many challenges affecting the deaf community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She also said that the deaf community in the society are the most hard hit by the pandemic and as such they have embarked on programmes to reach out to the communities by providing them with basic needs and empowering them with life skills.
She said that putting on masks has become a barrier in communicating and understanding the needs of a deaf person.
Keoagile explained that to some of their members wearing a mask was more difficult as many of the deaf people are also lip readers and it becomes hard for them to read lips or Interpret sign language under such circumstance.
She added with the use of masks it was difficult for deaf people to understand
The BOAD director added that going to the shops, medical check-ups, using public transportation such as mini-buses, taxis and schools whereas putting on a mask is generally difficult in their daily lives because distinguished individuals in the same professionals are not trained in sign language.
Keoagile also said that they understood the need to protect one another and this is why they need each other to understand through considering using a clear mask for ease in communication.
She added that there were limited sign language learning and socialisation places, especially during the national lockdown making it hard for them to receive information about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keoagile also revealed that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has left many of the deaf community jobless, as they had to return home with no payment to sustain their living.
She added that the on-going pandemic has also made it harder for the deaf people to find jobs. Therefore, the BOARD director said that there was a need to review the disability grant to support every unemployed person living with disability so that they can support their daily needs.
She further said that the cost of servicing and supporting the needs of people living with disability is expensive and needs to be addressed when reviving the cost of services.