Lovemore Kadzura Rusape Correspondent
THE nation needs to fully embrace the use of sign language just like any other spoken languages in order to bridge the communication gap between the hearing and the deaf people, a sign language expert has said.Speaking at the graduation ceremony of 30 students who graduated with certificates at the Seventh Day Mabvazuva Church in Rusape, Sign Language expert tutor, Mr Douglas Mapeta, said the language was equal to others as stated in the Constitution and therefore must not be looked down upon.
In the new Constitution, Sign Language is among the 16 official languages used in Zimbabwe.
“Sign Language is a national language that every citizen must strive to learn or at least appreciate. It is a misnomer to assume that the language is only for those who do not hear. Sign Language is recognised in the Constitution as one of the official languages of Zimbabwe.
“The training we had with these graduands will go a long way in bridging the gap between the deaf and hearing people. Sign language is not only a reserve for the deaf, but also for the hearing because we want to make communication easy between the hearing and deaf.
“The new education curriculum also recognises Sign Language which is a very positive development as Sign Language, just like any other language must be taught and perfected at a tender age. Among those who graduated are teachers and they will also impart what they learnt to pupils in their schools,” said Mr Mapeta, the director of Harare-based Sunrise Sign Language Academy.
Seventh Day Adventist Mabvazuwa pastor, Mr Maxwell Bundo, hailed the training of people in Sign Language, saying even in church it is difficult to spread the word of God to deaf people as most pastors and preachers are not well versed with the language.
“It is our first time to do such a special programme training people Sign Language. There was no way of communicating with deaf people in church and communities, but with this training it is now possible. By the grace of God, we hope that one day we will have a church specifically meant for the deaf people,” said Pastor Bundo, who also thanked prominent Rusape lawyer, Mr Leonard Chigadza for providing funding for the training.