Human Services Ministry urges end to prejudice, other barriers against deaf community

The Ministry of Human Services and Social Security is very mindful of the challenges affecting deaf persons and persons living with other disabilities in Guyana, and on the occasion of International Day of Sign Languages, we recognize and celebrate the myriad valuable contributions that they make every day in communities across Guyana.

This day, observed annually on September 23, has as its theme, this year, “We Sign for Human Rights,” and the ministry has chosen to promote sign language learning as an effective way of communication with the hope that prejudice and other barriers affecting the deaf and hearing impaired would lessen.

There are over 72 million deaf persons around the world and 80 percent of this number comes from developing countries, such as Guyana. Locally, there are over 2,000 persons with hearing impairment who are predominantly from Regions Three, Four, Six and Ten. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were approximately 54 deaf students in special needs schools.

Guyana is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the ministry has been engaging the Deaf Association of Guyana in several ways. For instance, persons from the deaf community participated in its cottage industry initiative last year, allowing for a number of them to earn by sewing face masks that were then distributed to various agencies across Guyana.

Those in the disability community hold a special place in the heart of subject minister, Dr. Vindhya Persaud who has been expending efforts to bring improvement to this section of our population.

As such, the ministry will be rolling out a series of skills-based training targeting persons with disabilities so that they can become empowered and qualified to gain meaningful employment and even become their own bosses. In the 2021 National budget, $120M was been allocated for training and empowerment activities for persons living with disabilities. This training will be free and is expected to benefit hundreds of persons living with disabilities across Guyana.

The ministry has also partnered with the Deaf Association of Guyana through Public Service Announcements (PSAs) to generate greater awareness about the capabilities of persons who are deaf; to promote their inclusion and end discrimination.

Further, the Ministry has sponsored the printing of sign language booklet.

Government will also be constructing a disability complex in Mahaica that will offer relevant and practical training.

The ministry firmly believes that a more equitable and inclusive society must be created where individuals who are deaf can feel valued and fully integrated into mainstream society with the guarantee that their basic human rights are secured.