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December 3, 2002

HIV/AIDS video for the deaf launched

From: GhanaWeb, Ghana - 03 Dec 2002

Accra (Greater Accra) 03 December 2002- An HIV/AIDS awareness raising video in Ghanaian sign language was on Monday pre-launched for young deaf Ghanaians as a way of enrolling them in the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) process on the disease.

Mrs Adelaide Addo-Fenning, Director of the Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO), a charity organisation, said the video would help tackle some of the communication barriers faced by the deaf in Ghana and beyond.

Artistes in the production include students from the Mampong Secondary Technical School for the Deaf (MSTSD) and a deaf film making company in the United Kingdom. It was sponsorship from the VSO, British High Commission and the British Council.

Mrs Addo-Fenning explained that the video was in its premiere stage and the final production would come out in January 2003. She noted that the deaf were often marginalised and left out of public education on the HIV/AIDS and other important decisions that affect them.

"Deaf Ghanaians do not enjoy the same access to education as their hearing counterparts and thus suffer from long-term neglect.”Due to this most of them remain illiterates and as a result do not reach any of the mainstream public educational efforts," she added.

Mrs Addo-Fenning said the time was due to give the disabled the chance to demonstrate their ability and capabilities as partners in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Dr Rod Pullen, British High Commissioner in Ghana, said there was no need for people to be complacent about the disease, since it had the potential of affecting more people.

He called on the Ministry of Health, the Ghana Education Service (GES) and all other service providers to ensure that services delivered to the deaf were translated into sign languages for better understanding.

He noted that though the there were no exact figures about the deaf population in the country; they nevertheless, constitute a significant percentage of the population. As such they should be included in the education efforts to combat HIV/AIDS.

He congratulated the producers and all the stakeholders in the production of the video and said it would go a long way to minimise the rate of infections among the youth.

Mr Francis Boison, Project Officer, Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD), said the project was only the first step in a range of activities to ensure that people with disabilities in Ghana had equal access to the same information and services as their able-bodied fellow citizens.

"People living with disabilities are not extra beings who need to be dealt with later after decisions have been taken, but must be accorded the same privileges as any other person in policy and decision making," he noted.

He said distribution of the video-cassette, would be channeled through the special Education Unit of the GES, the national, regional and district offices of the GNAD and VSO as well as the British Council offices throughout Africa, when they are ready. About 20 students of the MSTSD were awarded certificates of participation.

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