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Hearing impaired cry foul

Ms Kemmonye Keraetswe of Serowe is a proud woman who has accepted her disability and wishes other people can emulate her.

She was born with hearing impairment, but does not consider herself a disabled person and wishes the public could accommodate and work smoothly with the deaf society.

Ms Keraetswe expressed disappointment in an interview that the hearing impaired were not taken seriously and were subjected to discrimination due to the communication barrier.

She stated that the hearing impaired faced discrimination from society because they were perceived as hard to work with because of their lack of communication.

“Deafness is a complex topic and many people do not understand which is frustrating because we feel rejected when people do not pay attention to us,” she added.

Ms Keraetswe, who is an assistant teacher for sign language at Maun Senior Secondary School, called on government to ensure that sign language was taught in Setswana at schools.

Hearing impaired people, she said, used sign language as a means of communication, but stated that it was worrisome that it was only taught in English at schools.

She said hearing impaired people used sign language even beyond the school and stated that if it was taught in Setswana, it would help them to communicate effectively with society because they could get the message by reading their lips.

She also expressed disappointment that society, parents and care givers of children who were hearing impaired  were left out when it came to communication because they did not understand sign language.

Ms Keraetswe also noted that at schools, teachers focused on teaching students sign language, and not focusing on academics hence hearing impaired students were performing badly as compared to their hearing peers.

She also complained that students were taught in English using the Botswana sign language book which used the American sign language. She expressed worry that they did not learn Setswana norms, values, traditions and the culture of Botswana.

She said English was not their first language, hence the need to be taught in their mother tongue.

She argued that hearing impairment was not disability because they get the message, noting that they could also do what their hearing peers could do.

“I want communities to understand that deaf people are not disabled, but it is society that is disabling them because of the ill treatment accorded to them,” she added.

Ms Keraetswe shared her experience of growing up with her parents in Serowe, and that they struggled to teach her norms and values using sign language.

Her parents, she said, learnt sign language from other people who were familiar with it so that they could communicate effectively with her at home.

She said it was frustrating because the hearing impaired learnt about sign language at a later stage when they reached primary school, adding that she learnt to use sign language effectively when she started her primary school at Makolojwane Primary School in Serowe in 1993. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Esther Mmolai

Location : MAUN

Event : Interview

Date : Feb 08 Thu,2018

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