The deaf in Tanzania want to be heard too

On the same day that we have received approval of both the report and accounts for our COVID-19 project with the deaf organization CHAVITA in Tanzania, we are ready with a new joint effort for the benefit of the deaf. 

Deaf people’s ability to communicate with family, community members and local authorities is severely hampered. It’s been many years since Tanzania’s parliament signed up to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the country has its own excellent legislation in this area. But there is a long way from words to action and resources are limited.

Surveys show that only very few officials, who are formally responsible for the implementation of conventions and legislation, have ever heard these binding documents.

Sign language is the language of the deaf. Sign language and sign language interpreting are prerequisites for deaf people to participate in social life. Concerns about exclusion from vital information also drove the efforts around the COVID-19 project.

Our new project – when hopefully approved in a few weeks – will engage hundreds of deaf people and their communities, local administrations and media in three regions of Tanzania. Intensive focus on deaf rights and development of methods to ensure the use of sign language when deaf people need to communicate with e.g. authorities, labor market and schools.

In a country where smartphones are already being used for so many things, it makes sense to think in app terms and develop a sign language app that can help deaf people in their daily communication.

After 18 months of intensive efforts, the deaf organization CHAVITA should be ready with plans to roll out the best lessons learned from the pilot phase to the rest of the country.

We can’t wait to tell you more. But first, the project must be approved by CISU. Hopefully we’ll have good news from there by mid-March.

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