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People with disabilities sound SOS in Covid-19 pandemic

People with visual and hearing impairments in the country are concerned that access to information is remaining a challenge even now when they need it the most with the presence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Recently, the Visual Hearing Impairment Membership Association – VIHEMA DeafBlind Malawi made an appeal to the government and all well-wishers to consider donating braille machines for easy dissemination of Covid-19 related messages among those who cannot read the messages in their raw form.

In an earlier interview with Capital FM, Programs Coordinator for VIHEMA DeafBlind Malawi, Martha Momba raised concerns that receiving no Covid-19 messages makes them feel left out.

“When the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 is giving daily updates, the data is not plastered. We do not know how many persons with disabilities are infected and how they are being managed in terms of communication wherever they are being quarantined,” she pointed out.

“We would also love to see the Covid-19 preventive messages being written in braille so that we distribute to everybody with visual impairments,” Momba added.

She has since called upon those who can manage to help with such materials to come to their rescue.

In response, Minister of Disability and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati, stressed that they have initiatives in place to uplift the welfare of people with disabilities in general.

“We are really committed to empower them as well as their parents. We know they are expensive but will be able to source braille materials for the visually impaired with support from our partners like the European Union,” highlighted Kaliati.

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On concerns of lack of sign language interpreters, the minister emphasized that interpreters are being trained to work with all government departments and in every program.

The minister also indicated that they will be available on TV so that people with hearing challenges should be able to follow whatever is happening.

As calls for economic opportunities and other social needs continue to grow, Malawi joined the rest of the world in commemorating the World Hearing Day on 3rd March under the theme, “Hearing, care for all.”

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