By Lindsay Chiswe
The just ended leadership camp by the Harare Junior Council saw student’s being offered the opportunity to learn sign language, a first for most of the students.
The Junior Council which believes in the mantra disability does not mean inability, allocated the special interest councillors a one hour slot to do presentations on sign language.
At this year’s edition of the Junior Council Camp Junior Councillors were taught the finger spelling alphabet which is the most important aspect of sign language, basic number line, and also various ways to do gestures.
For some it was their first time to learn sign language so that they can have an appreciation of the language. After the presentation, students were randomly picked to recite what they had learnt.
Prisca Sinyoro, Senior Woman at Emerald Hill, who was the interpreter for the special interest councillors, conducted the lessons with two of her students. She commended the efforts Junior Council is doing, in giving them the opportunity to represent other students with special needs in the community.
‘This lesson we had today is important in that it will motivate the Junior Councillors to become sign language interpreters for they are few in the country.
‘I was really impressed with how the other students showed keen interest to learn, they put a lot of effort. They learnt fast and they were really excited,’ she said.
It is disheartening that despite sign language being an official language in Zimbabwe few schools teach it. This has resulted in widening the communication gap between the special needs children with other students in schools.
Sign language is important in that it raises awareness that deaf people exist and have right to information through interpreters and it is important everyone gets the basics.
Some of the students, who attended the lessons, expressed gratitude for being taught sign language.
‘The sign language lessons helped me to flex my hands and also to see how ignorant I was as far as not learning sign language was concerned,’ said Panashe Rumbwere one of the Junior Councillors.
Elton Phiri also shared the same sentiments on the sign language.
‘Sign language is not difficult to learn, I benefited a lot,
‘I can now count numbers and sign some of the words and I had a short conversation with Junior Councillor Tinotenda from Emerald hill, I hope by the end of year, I will be able to fully sign,’ he said.
Sign language is one of the official languages in Zimbabwe as provided for in the section 6 (1) of the Zimbabwean Constitution.