ALI JOOKHUN OSK*
The International Day of Sign Languages was first observed in 2018 as part of the International Week of the Deaf which was first celebrated in September 1958. The theme for the year 2020 is ‘Sign Languages are for Everyone!’.
The UNCRPD protects the rights of both signing and non-signing deaf and hard of hearing people to have access to information and communication in whatever modalities is most effective for them. Access to information with sign language interpretation is still a significant challenge in Mauritius. The widening of digital media which provides regular update of most recent global news unfortunately does not reach the community of Persons with hearing impairment.
During the recent COVID-19 crisis, there has been a notable absence of sign language interpreters in the daily broadcast of the national communication committee on the progress of the pandemic in the country. Hence, the hearing impaired community experienced a deep isolation as a side effect of being deaf in a hearing world.
The absence of sign language interpretation during the broadcast of important news has been raised several times on different platforms and has even been a subject matter of parliamentary questions. However, the situation has not improved at all. As a consequence, persons with hearing impairment « restent toujours sur leur faim ».
* (Recognition for dedicated service to persons with disabilities).
Commonwealth’s 83rd Points of Light Award from Her Majesty the Queen.
Disability Rights & Awareness Campaigner since 1993.