Health, Education, Asia - Pacific

Hearing-impaired demand sign language institute in Bangladesh

Rights activists urge inclusion of sign language in education system to allow communication between disabled and normal population

SM Najmus Sakib   | 22.09.2021
Hearing-impaired demand sign language institute in Bangladesh

DHAKA, Bangladesh

In absence of a proper institute to develop and teach sign language, speech-impaired people are facing an ordeal in getting education and employment in Bangladesh, say experts.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency through an interpreter on eve of the International Sign Language Day, which is being observed on Thursday, hearing-impaired Nahrin Sultana said after completing graduation in 2009, both government and private sectors had been denying her the job.

“I got rejected repeatedly due to my hearing disability and being a woman,” she said.

She said the setting up of a sign language institute and a system to incorporate sign language in the existing education process from the primary level will help people like her.

“We need institutional recognition to prove our strength. A sign language institute can help us in this regard. Once a sign language institute is set up, the general and technical education board will be responsible to enrolled students with hearing and speech disabilities,” she said.

Bangladesh hosts some 2.34 million people with different sorts of disabilities. Out of the 227,424 people face vocal and hearing disability, according to the government.

Only 15% of disabled people currently are employed in the country.

Ariful Islam, who is the president of a speech-impaired organization, said a modified standard sign language book is also necessary to avoid unnecessary differences between home signs and standard signs.

Salma Mahbub, general secretary of Bangladesh Society for Change and Advocacy Nexus, said the number of speech-impaired people in the country was much higher than the official figures.

“The enlisting process of hearing or vocal disabilities in the government list is still a tough job, and which manifold their fight in securing education, job, and government support,” she added.

She said it was necessary to include sign language in the general education system at the primary level so that not only disabled people but also normal people will also get educated to communicate with people with speech disabilities.

Jobs remain a challenge

Ariful Islam who is also working at the state-run Bangladesh Television said securing a job for a disabled person despite quota facility has remained a challenge.

“After getting passed in written and viva voice they have to fight before the court to secure their rights,” he said.

The government, however, said that they are on their way to establish a sign language institute and remove existing obstacles towards providing jobs to disabled people.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Probhash Chandra Roy, director of the National Foundation for Development of the Disabled Persons (JPUF) under the Ministry of Social Welfare, said the government was already processing the necessary official work to establish a sign language institute.

“We also requested the concerned ministries and government agencies to find out the existing obstacles and find a way out for the speech-impaired people to take them into the mainstream,” he added.

He said the government was also in the process of updating the existing sign language book. He also conceded that the official work had got stuck due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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