A group of Rwandan journalists has spent about two months learning sign language in a short course organized by the Media High Council (MHC) in collaboration with the umbrella of Deaf in Rwanda.
After the short course they have visited deaf people in Rubavu District as part of practical course on the Sign Language Course to make sure they know it.
The Journalists visited Ubumwe Community Center where students mostly deaf were very pleased with the knowledge they had gained from the opportunity to talk and even said that once the journalists got to know it it would help deaf people to know various News and articles that would go through the media from which they came.
Deaf people said that it is usually difficult to know the information and what was said in the news because almost all media outlets had no sign language interpreter other than National Television.
They go on to say that at least it would be better if all the media had an interpreter to help them understand the various information and conversations.
The fact that there were no translators to help them understand what was being said makes them feel no need to watch TV and choose to read only to those who know the information and sometimes take it from others which probably mislead them.
Olivier, One of the students we spoke to who is also deaf said that in addition to the training provided by the school, deaf students also help their colleagues to know sign language and all the students can speak it at home, although not all at home know it.
Zachalie Dusingizimana, Director of Ubumwe Community Center, said the parents’ perceptions were initially a challenge since they were not understanding how children with disabilities could learn together in school with the use sign language.
He added that so far the rest of the parents are happy because their children are learning all the languages including the sign language.
“Sign language is a language like any other. So since it is a language that is not widely known in our schools we have chosen to include talented teachers who translate for the deaf so that they can attend all classes and teach it to all other students with disabilities.”
“This year we have 32 children with hearing and speech impairments. The problem with them is mainly the ability to communicate with others in sign language so that even when they get home in their families they are not helped,” he said.
The center was launched to help people with disabilities as they were found to be marginalized and now accommodate all students and people with various disabilities.
Although the number of sign language users is increasing, those who teach it still have the problem that there are no sign language manuals in Kinyarwanda, and that a child who knows sign language in English would not tell it in Kinyarwanda.
KAYIHURA Frederic, a teacher and sign language translator, said, “The challenges we face in teaching sign language are that children often go up without basic knowledge of sign language and even when they start learning they start from English signs but now the problem is to take them out of the English sign and take them to the Kinyarwanda sign language ”
“For a child who has studied English sign language to take the Kinyarwanda test is very difficult, there is a need for advocacy so that there is a Kinyarwanda sign language textbook,” he added.
Isabella Iradukunda Elisabeth