Deaf community calls for disability-inclusive electoral processes

The Zimbabwe Sign Language Interpreters Trust (SLIT) believes the deaf are left behind when it comes to access to electoral information a situation which has limited their participation.

As the country gears for the 2023 general elections, SLIT says the information gap is a major challenge, especially in electoral issues where participation is critical for all eligible citizens.  

“The deaf have no access to basic information as most flyers are put in written languages and translated into most of the local languages but not in sign language. I think as for now, you understand the difficulties most deaf people have in reading, writing and understanding any of these spoken languages.

If you were to go into the communities and ask about the information they have on certain subjects you will realise that it’s very limited,” SLIT director Mbiko Nxumalo said.

Nxumalo said political parties, electoral management bodies must rope in sign language interpreters to be able to communicate information to the deaf community.

“Deaf people need information to make important decisions in life like voting for their desired candidate,  however, campaign material is easily available in a format they understand.

On the polling day itself, instructions are given in a spoken language leaving them to guess what will be said hence they would need someone to assist them throughout the whole process,” Nxumalo said.

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