Members of the deaf community call for more access

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Members of, and activists within the local deaf community continue to advocate for more attention and access, as the world celebrates International Week of the Deaf.

This community has long called on the government to provide more human and physical resources, and have been joined by other organisations, including the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Speaking on Observer Radio on Tuesday, and aided by Interpreter Megan Williams, Rhonda, a deaf Antiguan said the community requires much more resources than are currently available.

“We need much more. We need more interpreters, we need texting or video relay like at the police station, or for the doctor at the hospital, or the fire department, or lawyer. I mean, there are no interpreters for these things. There is no text number, there is no video relay like other countries have and it’s hard to find an interpreter to go with you.

“It is hard not having interpreters like when you go to the restaurant and I’d like to order and while I can write on paper, some deaf don’t even know how to write. The deaf school was established but it started with primary, grades 1 to 6 so if you were 1st Form or 2., there was nothing for you from that point on. So if you were a teenager, there was education for you. So the older deaf in Antigua, because of when it started they can’t read or write. They’re illiterate”, Rhonda stated.

Speaking further on the lack of adequate resources, Williams urged the government to place emphasis on recruiting more interpreters and providing facilities to accommodate the deaf community.

Despite the challenges, however, Williams added that members of the local deaf community are making efforts to keep connected and maintain a true sense of togetherness while sharing vital information.

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