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Deaf community feels excluded from polling process

Accra, Sept. 2, GNA – The President of Ghana National Association of the Deaf, Mr Emmanuel Sackey, has expressed worry over seemingly exclusion of deaf persons from electoral education process leading up to the December 7 presidential and parliamentary polls.

Accra, Sept. 2, GNA – The President of Ghana National Association of the Deaf, Mr Emmanuel Sackey, has expressed worry over seemingly exclusion of deaf persons from electoral education process leading up to the December 7 presidential and parliamentary polls.

Mr Sackey said: “Deaf persons also have the right to know,” and expressed wonder whether the Electoral Commission has made the necessary arrangement for sign language interpreters available at 29,000 polling stations for them to exercise their franchise.

“A lot of our members vote for wrong’ candidates and we think for the lack of communication we are missing out,” he said at a media briefing as part of collaborative efforts it is seeking for their concerns to be raised publicly.

“Everywhere you go there is the need for sign language interpreters, if there are sign language interpreters at all the polling stations, it will make voting easy for us,” he added.

The Association implored the media to help the deaf community query public officials and state institutions responsible for the election process when deaf persons have not been roped in the public campaign process.

“This year is a special year [in Ghana] because of the elections, we need the media to disseminate our concerns to the … public and especially the political parties,” he said.

“The deaf also have the right to know what is going on so that we can also exercise our fundamental human rights, we want the media to assist use, we the deaf people, disseminate our concerns and issues about this election year.”

The Project Officer, of GNAD, Mr Juventus Duorinaah underscored the power of the media as agenda setters and gatekeepers with regards to ensuring promotion of fundamental human rights in every society.

“You the media are very powerful and you all play very important role especially in this election. When it comes to voting we need to make the decision to know whom to vote for.

“As deaf people most often our needs are being ignored and sometimes some political parties don’t involve us when taking decisions.

“When you meet authorities ask them on behalf what they are doing for the deaf people, I was once a hearing person and later became deaf.”

The Association reached an understanding with some of the media to dedicate air time for sign language interpreters, especially, during political discussions on television.

Journalists were asked to help writer in-depth articles about deaf people and draw the attention of political party leaders to make available sign language interpreters when campaigning or explaining their manifestos to voters.

They are also to question the Electoral Commission about measures the electoral management body has put in place at the 29,000 polling stations for deaf persons.

The 2010 Housing and Population Census pegs people have hearing and speech disability at 234,000.

The 1992 Constitution, the Disability Rights Law, and various international conventions on the rights of persons with disability, make provisions for the inclusion of persons with disability in all facets of national life.

Established in 1968, Ghana National Association of the Deaf is the umbrella organization of deaf associations in the ten regions of the country.

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