By: R. Joyclyn Wea
MONROVIA-Persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Liberia have termed as frustrating the absence of ‘Sound Language Interpreters’ at the just-ended State of the Nation Address (SONA) on grounds that there was no one to convey the President’s message to people with hearing impairment who have gone to attend the event.
PWDs thought the president’s message would have also been televised for members with hearing defects to get the message, but the same was not done.
“I went there, but there was no interpreter for me and so I was just watching without understanding what was being said,” Director for Technical Services National Commission on Disability”. He continues: “My aid and I went but he was stopped from entering as he did not have an invitation, so I was just there watching but I could not understand anything,” Adrian Sandi, Deputy Director for Technical Service at the National Commission on Disability said.
The absence of sound language at the SONA was frustrating for people with hearing impairment like the director who has gone to attend the event as they could not hear or understand what the president was saying.
“Interpreters supposed to be there, to help us understand what the president was actually saying, but sadly, this was never the case. Sandi noted. “My Director and I were seated right next to each other and so whatever they say, she would try to write it down and show it to me and read, but that was not enough; I think a sound language interpreter would have helped greatly.
At the moment, Liberia has 11 ‘sound language interpreters’, but the director said at no time was his office contacted to provide a sound language interpreter for the even and other past national events in the country.
“We do have a sound language interpreter in Liberia, but for the event, I was not contacted at all. When we are to go to other countries we have interpreters there to interpret for us, but when it comes to Liberia it is different.”
Aside from the just-ended SONA, he said there had never been a point in time where he was contracted to provide a sound language interpreter for such events and any other national events. Unlike my special assistant who had been there to help me.
Unlike my special assistant who had been there to help me. He disclosed a plan by the commission to have more sound language interpreters trained and have them deplored to line ministries and agencies of the national government, hospitals etc. that will help members of the deaf community that would be visiting those areas.
The NCD Director for Technical Services was also buttressed by Peter Flomo, National Vice President for Administrative for the National Union Organization for Disable.
“When the president went around for his national county tour, one of the areas he stopped in Margibi, sound language interpretation was done, so I thought that aspect could have opened the eyes of the President, so that wherever he goes sound language interpreter could have been included, but unfortunately this was never the case,” Flomo noted.
He further: “There was a lot of hard to hear people monitoring and trying to get their way out in terms of hearing the speech, but it was difficult due to the absence of the sound language interpreter.”
It burns me because people with hearing impairment too are Liberians and should not be treated as they are into a different world when they are not. He continues, not because of their ear problem you try to lock the door in front of them; When I say lock the door on them, I mean a deaf person can come and sit here, you will say all the best things about them, but when there is no one to relate to them, then, there is a problem.
“In keeping with the president’s own manifesto, we thought that issue could have been placed at the front. He continues, “At least an interpreter should have been there to translate the message to our hard of hearing brothers and sisters who were at the event and should have also televised the message for them.”
According to him, it was a problem for the deaf community to get the message and because of that; they did not feel the impact of the president’s state of the nation address and prayed that this is addressed in subsequent time.