TV stations must feature sign language interpreters: Senator

Human rights activist and senator, Nasper Manyau, has urged the government to ensure that television stations incorporate sign language interpreters, especially when broadcasting information in the public interest.

Senator Manyau made her inquiry in the August House during a question-and-answer session. 

“My question is directed to the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services. From the time we heard that sign language is one of the official languages, is there anything you are doing on television because that is where they are able to access news, including cyclone news?” she asked. 

“Is there anything you are doing to ensure that there is a programme related to national disasters or some important news? Is there anything else that you can do because the sign language anchor’s picture is very small and in terms of sign language, people sometimes read body language for them to understand?” 

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Deputy Minister Kindness Paradza, in response, said the government did communicate with the broadcasters on the need to have sign language interpreters on their programs. 

“As a government and as a ministry, we are saying all television service providers were told to ensure that they have sign language presenters. Indeed, I agree that the reader or newscaster will be on a very small corner, but that is because of the available technology right now,” he said.  

“I am sure in future we will be able to see the full body of the presenter so that they become more articulate, but the main issue is all the television stations must have a sign language presenter. That is the policy Right now, we have issued six television licences on top of ZBC. All those television stations, when they start broadcasting; because of technology, I am sure will be able to fulfill their expectations.”

The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) awarded six free-to-air national commercial television broadcasting licences to 3K TV, Keyona TV, NRTV, Kumba TV, Channel D and ZTN. Some of the stations have started broadcasting while others are yet to go on air.

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