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Deaf people lack access to quality education, health care- New Gadhoh President

Oct 25, 2019, 12:13 PM | Article By: Madi S. Njie

Tuesday  22 October 2019 Issue

The newly elected President of The Gambia Association of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (GADHOH) has said that Deaf People are lacking access to quality education, good health care, employment, while their rights are being violated at work places.

Binta Badjie, the newly elected GADHOH President in unveiling her plans has expressed concern over the numerous challenges confronting hard of hearing people, and pledge to design strategies towards addressing the needs of deaf people.

Speaking in an interview at the Gadhoh Head Office in Kanifing on 12 October 2019, Ms Badjie who was elected during Gadhoh’s Congress on 11 October 2019, noted that a lot of progress has to take place, adding: “I want to consolidate the developments that have taken place, by reviewing the existing policies, with a view to addressing the rights of deaf women in particular, and to have enough Sign language interpreters in The Gambia.

“I will partner with Hospitals and the Gambia Nurses Association to make sure deaf people have confidence in Doctors’ treatments. This is because deaf people face challenges in hospitals due to language barriers. We will organise training for Doctors and Nurses to foster communication and understanding with their Deaf patients.

“We will visit health training institutions, to talk to incoming Nurses about providing efficient health care service for Deaf people,” she said, and added, “We will advocate for recognition of Sign Language and access for sign language, especially for pregnant Deaf women and deaf children.”

Ms Badjie said the education system is not accessible to Deaf people, as there are only two main schools for the Deaf in The Gambia, located at Kanifing and Brikama. “Access to Secondary and Tertiary education is the biggest challenge as most schools lack facilities to accommodate Deaf students. Health and communication are challenges because Doctors often give wrong prescription to Deaf patients, due to language barriers,” she said.

The Gadhoh President further asserted: “We also learn that Deaf people are not accessing relevant information. We will therefore take it up with the Ministry of Information, as well to meet relevant Government institutions to ensure that the issue is sorted out.”

Ms Badjie lamented that employment is also another challenge, connected to education, noting that Deaf people lack quality education, and end up being labourers, being offered low salaries, and have their rights violated at work places. She said some are paid every three months; while most of them go without employment benefits, such as social security.

She said as someone with good experience in lobbying and advocacy, she would prioritise to meet employers and companies, and make head counts on deaf employment, to sensitise company and business owners to ensure and guarantee to Deaf peoples’ rights in work places. “Deaf people are also employers and we will sensitized them, with a view to improving working conditions for their fellow Deaf people,” she said.

Ms Badjie was a student at St. John School for the Deaf, and proceeded to mainstream school at Nusrat Senior Secondary School from 2008 to 2011. “The integration process was not perfect and I had to struggle to complete my schooling,” she said.

She thereafter was admitted at the American International University where she studied Human Resource and Labour Management- BSc from January 2015 to January 2019, and graduated in May 2019.

She co-founded Gambian Deaf Women’s Society and through the Organisation, she established the first ever deaf owned Restaurant in The Gambia, employing only Deaf Women.