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June 3, 2005

Handspeak A Television Programme For And By The Deaf

From: Press Release - Jun 3, 2005

Harare, 31 May 2005



CHIPAWO will on Sunday 5 June 2005 score a first on national television when the first episode of the first television series for and by the deaf will be broadcast. This is a weekly magazine programme in Sign Language entitled Handspeak.

There will be sub-titles so hearing viewers will be able to follow what is being said. Each episode will feature a short lesson on Sign Language, news about and for the deaf, a drama on the topic of the week followed by a discussion with guests on the programme and the Window of Hope - a profile of deaf persons who have, despite the odds, made something of their lives. The series features topics such as Love and Marriage, Careers for deaf people, HIV/AIDS, Education, Communication with others in the community and Entertainment as well as Relaxation.

The producer of the programme is Ms Nyasha Nyamwanza, the 'Challenged' Programme Officer in CHIPAWO, herself deaf. Ms Nyamwanza is a graduate of Emerald Hill School for the Deaf and the programme has grown out of the work that the school and CHIPAWO have done together to develop arts education in the deaf community. Nyasha is also the anchor in the show and all the dramas were developed and acted by students at Emerald Hill. Nyasha said the main aim of the programme was to change people's attitudes towards the deaf "The aim of the programme is to change the way deaf people are perceived in the society by showing that the deaf are just like hearing people" she said. She also said that the programme also seeks to show the problems that the deaf face in Zimbabwe and therefore try to call for action to help the deaf and that there's need to teach Sign Language in order to make communication between the hearing and deaf easier.

The Principal of Emerald Hill School for the Deaf is Sister Tariro Chimanyiwa, and is also the Chairperson of the National Council for the Deaf. She has given the project unwavering support and she felt that the programme would go a long way in eradicating the stigma associated with the deaf. The Council, in conjunction with CHIPAWO and ZBC, will be officially launching the series on 15th June at a venue yet to be announced.

The television series is the work of CHIPAWO Media funded by MS Zimbabwe, the Danish development organisation. Though the first series was filmed by an all-hearing crew, it is planned that in future a deaf crew will be trained.

Though there are television programmes for the deaf in other countries, there are not many in Africa that have such programmes. According to the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) report 10 percent of the content on the national television broadcaster, ZTV is expected to cater for the hearing impaired. As there was virtually nothing before, except for certain news programmes in Sign Language, Handspeak will go a long way towards filling the gap.

HANDSPEAK is part of ZTV's new season which starts on the 1st of June and the programme will be broadcast on Sunday at 11am with the repeat on Monday at 5pm.

Bridget Chimboza
Publicity and Public Relations Officer