People living with disabilities (PWDs) in Masvingo demanded that government must provide for Sign Language interpreters in all public offices in order to help develop it as one of the officially-recognised languages in the country.
Speaking at a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Gender Development enquiry held at Mucheke Hall recently, PWDs expressed dismay over the unavailability of Sign Language-proficient staff in public offices such as the police stations, health centres and government departments.
“We face many challenges when we approach public offices especially police stations and health centres. We want government to include Sign Language interpreters in such public offices.
“People who work with the public should be trained to speak Sign Language to overcome communication breakdowns that we face at these public spaces,” said Moses Chitombo.
Others said people with disabilities were more likely to find it harder to secure accommodation on rental basis than other people, making it critical for government to help them have homes of their own.
Tavengwa Mazhambe from the National Council of Disabled Persons of Zimbabwe (NCDPZ) said many PWDs did not turn up for the event as the communication used by parliament to mobilise them was flawed.
“We were not formally informed about the event. We only got to know about it at the 11th hour through social media. Those who turned up are live close by,” said Mazhambe.
Some participants claimed such outreaches were no longer appealing to the concerned people, saying issues raised are never implemented.
Others said the proportional representation system should be expanded to accommodate more PWDs in parliament as well as in both urban and rural district councils.
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Gender Development chairperson Siphiwe Ncube, however, said the information obtained will help parliament to shape policy.