Incorporate sign language, media urged 

Source: Incorporate sign language, media urged | The Sunday Mail

Incorporate sign language, media urged
Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Deputy Minister Kindness Paradza (right) responds to questions from editors while ZINEF national vice chairperson and Zimpapers’ The Sunday Mail Editor Victoria Ruzvidzo (second from right) and other editors listen

Sunday Mail Reporter

MEDIA houses should incorporate ways of communicating to people with disabilities to effectively disseminate information especially during pandemics, an expert has said.

Speaking at a two-day HIV/AIDS workshop for print and electronic media editors convened by the National Aids Council (NAC) in Chinhoyi last week, Sunrise Sign Language Academy director Mr Douglas Mpeta, said people with disabilities, deaf people in particular, were facing challenges when seeking medical treatment.

He said effective communication is important for the country to achieve the 95-95-95 HIV prevention target by 2030.

Zimbabwe has already achieved the 90-90-90 target on HIV prevention and is now working on the 95-95-95 milestone.

The 90-90-90 concept was introduced by the United Nations programme on HIV/AIDS in 2013 to ensure that by 2020, 90 percent of people who have HIV infections will be diagnosed, 90 percent of people who are diagnosed will be on Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) while 90 percent of those on ART will be virally suppressed.

“Information on Covid-19 and HIV is not readily accessible to the deaf and many healthcare givers are not proficient in sign language. Most terms used by the healthcare workers during the Covid-19 induced lockdowns are not known or understood by the deaf.

“In addition, media houses do not translate this information to sign language resulting in some critical information not reaching the deaf community. Many deaf people defaulted on their ART due to inadequate information during lockdowns.”

Zimbabwe has an estimated 700 000 deaf people. Speaking at the same event NAC communications officer, Ms Tadiwa Nyatanga- Pfupa said the media has an important role to play in dissemination of information to all communities.

“There is a need for journalists and media houses to embrace sign language so that critical information on health is received by deaf people. We believe that this will also go a long way in facilitating and easing communication about both HIV and Covid-19 including the ongoing vaccination programme.”

The Zimbabwe Network of Editors Forum (ZINEF) vice chairperson, Mrs Victoria Ruzvidzo said the workshop gave editors the opportunity to appreciate developments in the HIV/Aids and related sectors.

“There is no better journalist than an informed one. So the workshop has given us the exposure to the goings-on in the sector and this will help us bring issues to the fore while guiding our newsrooms on more incisive coverage of HIV/Aids issues. We owe it to our readers and various publics to give them updated and factual information about the disease to help impact them in terms of behavioural change and available treatment options, among other aspects,” she said.