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First sign language centre unveiled, championing inclusivity

By Charles K Mark

 

Though right to education is fundamental for individuals all over the world, but many persons with disabilities (PWDs) in South Sudan have been severely deprived due to lack of access to aid appliances to overcome barriers.

In the world today, many assistive devices, with the aid of modern technology, have been introduced for PWDs in order to develop the maximum potential for access in education in terms of communication.

The ability to make conversation with other people and to understand what they are saying is one’s most valuable gift.

This week in Juba, a civil society organization, Community Empowerment for Progress (CEPO), with support from Light of the World, launched a “Sign Language Center,” one of its kind.

The initiative has been welcomed by many people with hearing impairments.

Rose Poni, in her mid-20s, wants to become a teacher of sign language. She says it is overdue that such a centre has been established.

Poni lost her hearing abilities at an early age due to an illness that affected some of her nerves while she was still in primary school.

She narrates how difficult it was for her to keep up with the then-new normal when she barely communicated with her family members.

“My sisters and brothers completely rejected me. They said I was bothering them. To them, I became a burden. They always mocked me!” she expressed.

Poni’s communication with her siblings remains cut off since neither have, they understood her need nor do they have an interest in learning to communicate with her.

But her hero remains her father, whom she says has accepted her since the diagnosis and has always been supportive.

“He loves me so much. He took me to Buluk Inclusive Center, where I was able to learn to communicate with sign language. And he learned too. I think sign language is a masterpiece of inclusivity,” The Girl with Hearing Impairment expressed.

She does not only delight in the launch of the Sign Language Center, but she wants to be part of it too because she wants to become an instructor.

“I want to become a teacher, not only in schools but in hospitals and other places, so that I can teach as many people as I can to learn the sign language,” Poni pledges.

James Duncan, 26, is another person with a hearing impairment. James was born and raised with an inability to talk or hear.

He also said he has a brother who became impaired after birth. The young man feels separated from the universe because of his disability to effectively communicate.

However, James is glad that the country will finally have its own center that will enable it to adopt language fitted into cultural norms and values.

“We want the world to know that with this center, we are not copying any language from anywhere but our own,” he said.

James failed to continue his higher education due to a lack of interpreters or sign language teachers in the country.

For him, the sign language center in the country is a remedy. He believes the center will bring unity among people with hearing impairments and the world.

Disability and Inclusion

According to Diversity for Social Impact, disability and inclusion are topics that cover how people with disabilities can participate in every aspect of life and society.

It also involves creating accessibility and recognition for people with disabilities in areas such as education, employment, health, and community living.

Disability and inclusion are important for building the capacity of people with disabilities, making society more inclusive for all individuals, and creating diverse and supportive workplaces.

Disability exclusion can happen unintentionally or intentionally, and it can signal that people with disabilities are socially worthless or a bad fit for the community.

In 2021, Light for the World supported the government of South Sudan in establishing the National Inclusive Education Police to promote the rights of persons with disabilities.

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