By Kaya 959 News
Long-suffering deaf and hard-of-hearing victims of gender-based-violence (GBV) and other social ills will now be able to receive SA Sign Language-based support.
This is thanks to a programme that is being rolled out by the Neema Foundation for the deaf in various areas across the country
The initiative is supported by the National Development Agency’s GBV and femicide programme that aims to strengthen families by enhancing child development, reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect and also capacitating them as part of efforts to deal with social crimes.
Foundation chairperson, Cebisile Ndebele, said there are many families within the deaf community that have to contend with violence, rape, neglect and substance abuse.
“Often victims receive little or no help from the authorities simply because they do not know their rights and are unable to overcome the communication barriers. Our aim is to empower them and enhance their access to services,” she said.
She said the initiative will start on May 22 in Ekurhuleni.
Ndebele said most deaf children and youth come from hearing families. deaf children and youth have unique needs that hearing parents often find it difficult to deal with as they reach different stages of their development.
“This type of specialised assistance is long overdue. Over the years, we have been receiving requests for assistance almost daily, from parents, young women including LGBTQI+ persons. We have now decided to formalise the programme and expand it,” she said.
More specifically, the initiative aims to educate deaf communities about their rights and access to the criminal justice system as well as to strengthen communication between parents and deaf children.
Ndebele said they are also hoping to assist with conflict resolution within the families, physically capacitate women through self-defense classes and raise awareness about the impact of drug and alcohol abuse.
“Our intervention is conducted directly with families and individuals involved as a mechanism to address societal challenges within the deaf community such as GBV as well as psychological and economic empowerment of women, Ndebele said.
She said through the Foundation, they aim to empower and position deaf and hard-of-hearing people in South Africa and across the continent, particularly women, youth and children, in the marketplace.
“Women, youth and children are generally vulnerable across the world, this is significantly worse when they are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
They are faced with enormous challenges, ranging from attaining an education, starting a business, or obtaining employment; remarkably preventing their economic and social independence,” she said.