Malawi National Association of the Deaf (Manad) executive director Byson Chimenya says it is worrisome that while the country is preparing for the 2019 Tripartite Elections, most people with visual impairment are not included.
He was speaking during a press briefing in Blantyre on Wednesday.
“We have evidence that some eligible citizens with visual impairment failed to register in the ongoing voter registration exercise because they did not know it was happening in their area.
“We suggest authorities engage us to ensure every Malawian takes part in this very important exercise,” said Chimenya through a sign language interpreter.
He emphasised the need for every child to learn sign language and the promotion of the use of sign languages in the country, particularly on television to enable every Malawian to access important messages.
According to him, despite having a Disability Act, people with hearing impairment continue to face various challenges and injustices worsened by poor communication methods.
Manad programmes officer Bruno Mwase said for the first time, the association will commemorate the International Day of Sign Language on September 23 to raise awareness on the importance of communicating through sign languages.
“For every person to take part in any development activity, they need to understand what is going on. People with visual impairment lack information because most messages are not delivered in an accessible manner. Here in Malawi, like the rest of the world, little has been done to promote sign language,” he said.
Each year, from September 21 to 27 the world commemorates International Week of the Deaf whereby activists lobby governments to commit to meeting the needs of people with hearing impairment.
During the week, the association will visit schools that teach children with visual impairment such as Mount View in Thyolo to hear the challenges they face and find lasting solution. n