THE deaf people in Kapiri Mposhi district have lamented that they are stigmatised and marginalised.
Speaking during a caucus meeting comprising people with hearing impairment, some deaf people complained that access to social amenities such as schools tend to favour the able bodied while at community level they continue suffering stigmatisation owing to their social status.
Grace Hakoola, who has a hearing impairment, explained that she had been segregated even in places of worship while access of social services had proved to be a challenge.
“We are stigmatised and marginalised a lot in communities. Some people even go to an extend of avoiding us or running away from us each time we want to engage them in some conversation,” lamented Hakoola through an interpreter. “I remember my own family used to leave me at home each time they went to Church on the guise that I am not able to comprehend anything while in a place of worship.”
And Edward Makoloni, who is also deaf and is engaged in carpentry and joinery, said people with hearing impairment do not take pleasure in asking for alms on the streets and, as such they would want those in authorities to empower them with entrepreneurship skills.
“We are always considered to be among the poorest people in society. But we do not want to be asking for hand-outs from well-wishers on the streets. We are also humans who should lead dignified lives,” Makoloni explained. “We, therefore, call upon those in government to consider empowering the deaf with entrepreneurship skills so that they make ends meet.”
He further observed that people with hearing impairment were rarely given media coverage.
Meanwhile, Kapiri Mposhi Association of the Deaf and Community Development secretary Mate Simataa said despite Zambia being a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons Living with Disabilities of 2006, there has been little actualisation of rights for people with hearing impairments.
Simataa said there was need to domesticate and actualise the rights of persons with disabilities.
He observed that the domestication of such international conventions would promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by people with disabilities, including the deaf.
“While we understand that the government has shown its commitment by ratifying some of these international conventions, this commitment will be in vain and remain unappreciated if the convention on persons with disabilities is not domesticated and implemented for the benefit of the deaf people,” Simataa said.
He said there was need to involve deaf people in decision making positions because they, too, had the ability to contribute to national development.