Numerous challenges plague members of the deaf community in Botswana. Chief among these is the communication barrier that deaf people face when accessing everyday services as very few members of the community can communicate in sign language.

A member of the deaf community who wishes to remain anonymous re-lived an ordeal they experienced when they sought help from the Botswana Police Service.

What should have been a simple task of them reporting a crime at their local police station became a near impossible task as the police had to look for an individual in town who could help interpret for them.

The hunt for an interpreter at the police station took almost half the day. Unsurprisingly, this is a common occurrence in places that offer services to the general public.

Botswana Association for the Deaf (BOAD) spokesperson Fredrick Kololo has expressed concern over issues that the deaf face in Botswana. Kololo says the fact that sign language is not part of the curriculum creates a big problem of proper communication with the deaf.

Kololo’s concern is based in the fact that in every village, town and city there is at least one person who is deaf. Therefore there is an automatic need for people who can communicate in sign language in every community.

Kololo explains that many deaf people have given up on trying to get government-funded projects and simple things such as opening bank accounts or going to the hospital because their privacy is often violated as a third person has to come in and be the middleman.

Kololo explains that BOAD has a plan through which they intend to end the scarcity of sign language interpreters in different organisations.

BOAD is in talks with different organisations within the private sector and in government so that they can train staff members for them. This way they can plant members of the society who know sign language in various organisations to ensure that the deaf receive timely access to resources.

In order to create a society that can open up to the deaf community, Kololo says Botswana must prioritise grassroots level training of sign language, and the nation must invest in training of sign language and entities that offer such training. [IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN RECEIVING