Many years ago, persons with disabilities especially the deaf were prevented from attending school or were not provided services to help them succeed. These and many other accounts for lack of persons with hearing-impairments (deaf persons) in mostly all the sectors of the economy especially in the medical field.
Since the introduction of sign language curricula into the nursing and midwifery training schools by the Nurse and the Midwifery Council in 2014, not a single deaf person has been trained as a nurse. Though the idea is to help deal with the challenge faced by the deaf when they visit health facilities when they are sick and to make professional medical training accessible to them.
TodayGhanaNews authoritatively reported that since independence, Ghana has never produced a single deaf person as a medical doctor or a nurse due to the barrier of communication in sign language and mode of teaching in our schools.
In Ghana access to healthcare for speech and hearing-impaired clients can be difficult against the backdrop that healthcare providers are inadequately trained to work with deaf clients whose primary mode of communication is sign language.
Also, writing communication pose the challenge when the deaf person do not understand some of the words written by the providers or they cannot express themselves well in writing which interferes with treatment.
This is especially so, where the persons with hearing impaired (deaf) visits the facilities on their own without relatives accompanying them, where they are not able to read and write and where there are often no interpreters of sign language.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with TodayGhanaNews, Dr. Emmanuel Sackey the program manager of Center for Employment of persons with Disabilities, said because of late identification of deafness and lack of qualified early interventionists, they frequently enter school with language gaps and delays. Saying most deaf students do not have a cognitive disability, yet on average they perform below peers on academic measures. Early intervention studies show that students who do best are those who are identified early and receive early intervention from providers with specialized skills teaching deaf and hard of hearing babies and their families.
Dr. Emmanuel Sackey appealed to government to inculcate teachers who are skilled in helping students develop and increase spoken language ability and who are fluent in sign language and skilled in helping students develop and increase sign language ability.
He said teachers trained in strategies to teach academic and non-academic information to deaf and hard of hearing students and teachers equipped with Audiologists who can provide and maintain listening technology.
He said many deaf or hard of hearing students use sign language as a primary means of communication therefore is imperative for schools to provide opportunities for direct communications with peers and professional personnel in the child’s language and communication mode.
Dr. Emmanuel Sackey appealed to the state to provide strong support to schools for the deaf Including providing funding, facilities, and other resources to the schools, and support to university programs to provide a source for teachers and other trained personnel.
He also asked the leadership of Ghana Education Service to consider introducing basic sign language studies in the basic, second cycle and tertiary levels so that graduates at each level will be equipped with basic sign language communication.
“The government should provide more schools for the deaf in various regions of the country in order to reduce illiteracy level among the deaf so they can also express themselves well in the sign language and writing” he added.
He also called on the leaders and opinion of the deaf association to promote and encourage the deaf to go to health facilities with their own interpreters/ relative to assist, if not, the deaf on arrival should create awareness of their presence to notify the providers they are deaf.