A GROUP of people with hearing disabilities has written to the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation demanding that all news bulletins and important television programmes like the Independence Day broadcast must have sign language interpreters.
The group of youths – comprising Kuda Matapure, William Masiye, Tendai Dondofema, Amanda Tekede, Martin Rinoona and Blessing Makimira – has instructed the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to write a letter of demand to ZBC’s chief executive officer.
It is the group’s argument that the national broadcaster must cater for all people without discrimination. They contend that despite ZBC’s status as a public broadcaster, there was inconsistency in the provision of sign language interpreters to cater for those with hearing challenges.
“Where interpretation services are provided such as during the prime time news, the business segment of the broadcast is not interpreted.
“Key national events such as Independence Day celebrations, burials of national heroes and parliamentary debates are similarly not interpreted in sign language,” they argued.
The lawyers, in the letter of demand, stated that documentaries shown on the national television do not have captions or sub- titles.
It is argued that the minority group misses out on health alerts, promulgation of national disasters among other important information. The lawyers said failure by the public broadcaster to provide interpretation services is a violation of their clients’ constitutional rights.
“Our clients advise that this state of affairs has resulted in them experiencing multiple human rights violations, as their rights to freedom of expression, language, health and equality are simultaneously affected.
“They further state that they feel marginalised and unable to fully participate in public life, as sign language is the only language our clients and other deaf and hearing impaired people (undestand),” the letter reads.
The lawyers argued that sign language is one of the officially recognised languages of Zimbabwe and that ZBC, as a State entity, was enjoined to promote and advance the use of the lan- guage.
“Consequently, we are instructed to demand, that you outline a plan of action setting out how you will ensure that this linguistic minority obtains full access to programming provided by the national broadcaster . . . All of this will ensure that the deaf community in Zimbabwe becomes informed and better able to engage on key issues,” the letter reads.
Two days later ZBC acting corporate secretary Mr Gladman Bandama confirmed receipt of the letter of demand. He said the public broadcaster was still deliberating on the mat- ter.
“We hereby acknowledge receipt of your letter of demand which we received on the 20th of April instant, contents of which have been duly noted.
“Kindly note that the corporation is looking into the matter with the urgency it deserves and will soon favour you with a response,” reads Mr Bandama’s letter. herald