Deaf community wants be heard
Samoans living with hearing disabilities have called for their rights to be heard in society and help to allow them to be free from all forms of harmful and disrespectful practices.
The call was made by the Nuanua O Le Alofa (N.O.L.A.) President, Milovale Lama, during the commemoration of the International Week of the Deaf 2020. The ceremony was held at the Samoa Independent Seventh Day Adventist (S.I.S.D.A.C.) conference room on Wednesday.
The event also marked the launch of a three day forum that brought together deaf members from across the country to strengthen the capacity of members to be the leading advocacy organisation for the deaf community.
Mr. Lama told the audience that as the leading advocacy organisation of persons with disabilities, they continue to remain committed to its efforts to ensure opportunities are available to achieve this goal.
“The efforts of its subgroups to commemorate international days of persons with disabilities such as the international day of the deaf, white cane and world’s sight day, to name a few signifies the commitment of N.O.L.A. as the umbrella advocacy organisation of and for persons with disabilities to provide a platform for the subgroups to discuss their issues and opportunities to promote disability specific led activities," he said.
“This indeed coincides with the theme for this year’s international week of the deaf ‘reaffirming the rights of the deaf,’ the right to be consulted, free from all form of harmful and disrespectful practice.
“The right to be empowered to make informed decisions and contribute substantially to the development of both the disability movement and Samoa as a whole.”
He also congratulated the Deaf Association Samoa (D.A.S.) and its partners for achieving another milestone in its development.
“The organisation has come a long way because of your sacrifices and commitment.
“This three-day forum is your opportunity to engage and discuss the future you want to be so make the most of it.
“To the Government of Samoa, our development partners and wider community, the successes of D.A.S. to be included in national programmes and services would not have been possible without your tremendous support.”
The N.O.L.A. president added that some of the challenges faced by those with hearing disabilities especially within their families are the poor communication.
He explained that sign language is used by those with hearing disabilities but the challenge is that their families cannot communicate back because they do not understand their form of communication.
“So far, we have 7,000 Samoans living with various forms of disabilities but for those with hearing disabilities account to around 100.”