Covid-19 and deaf young women
By Florence Zirima
The Covid-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the lives of many young women especially those who are deaf.
There has been a communication barrier on Covid-19 preventive measures hence it made the situation unbearable to the young deaf women.
Communication is a fundamental need during emergencies and it should be strengthened so that every citizen can adjust to the situation whether the situation is enormous or minor.
The deaf women have been facing challenges in terms of accessing timeous information about Covid-19.
In separate interviews that have been conducted by this publication, a young deaf woman Lucia Masauso explained how the Covid-19 pandemic has been affecting her saying, ” There are no interpretors at the hospitals and if a deaf person suspects that they have the virus, they can not communicate with the nurses,” she said.
Another young woman who is deaf by the name Odilo Linzi explained how social media helped her to get the information about Covid-19.
“I can say I really do not understand everything about Covid-19 , when it started I learnt about it mostly by reading information on social media platforms and that is when I began to know how to prevent it”, she said.
Maudi Moyo is another woman who is deaf. She told this publication that the wearing of masks affected her as deaf people depend on facial expressions.
“As for me as a member of the deaf community it was really difficult to communicate because of the mandate to wear masks in public. Deaf people use sign language and they also rely on facial expressions for communication”, she explained.
In 2020 last year, organisations such as Deaf Zimbabwe Trust, Centre for Disability and Development Trust, and the Zimbabwe National League of the blind sued the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation (ZBC) and the government demanding the provision of information about Covid-19 in a format accessible to the deaf community.
ZBC was given an order to have sign language on its programming so that the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people are fully informed about the virus.
It was also compelled to provide sign language interpretation for main bulletins and to provide subtitles and captions for pre-recorded programmes .
The government through the Ministry of information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the Ministry of Public Services, Labour and Social Welfare was given an order to immediately provide all written information about Covid-19 daily updates to be made available in a format accessible to deaf and blind people.
The ministry of information was also directed to notify ZBC on intended announcements by government pertaining to Covid-19. The Ministry of Health and Child Care was demanded to ensure that its hotlines and centres for COVID-19 are equipped and stuffed with workers who are able to deal with people with various disabilities when they want to know how and where they can get information about the disease in formats accessible to them.
Section 62 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe clearly says that every person has the right to access information.
In times of crises and disasters a lack of access to communication and information platforms for people living with various types of disabilities makes them more vulnerable and prone to life threatening situations.