CBC Health Services launches Sign Language Dictionary on 2023 World Hearing Day

The CBC Health Services’ Socio-Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (SEEPD) Programme in collaboration with the Regional Delegations of Secondary and Basic Education has launched a Sign Language Dictionary on the occasion of World Hearing Day 2023. The launching took place at the Regional Inclusive Education Resource Center at GBHS Bamenda on March 3, 2023 as part of commemorative activities marking the Day.

The Sign Language Dictionary made up of 17 chapters is a compilation of 570 commonly used signs by the deaf community in the North West Region. The initiative, according to the CBC Health Services Inclusion Manager and Sign Language Interpreter, Mr. Che Manasseh is the product of 13 years of research, consultations and deliberations undertaken to recognize and standardize indigenous signs used by deaf people in the North West Region of Cameroon.

The official launching of the dictionary was done by the SEEPD Programme Manager, Mr. Awa Jacques Chirac, the Regional Delegate of Secondary Education. Mr. Ngwang Roland Yuven, the representative of the Regional Delegate of Basic Education, Mr. Bafon Lahidou and the Chairperson of the Coordinating Unit of the Associations of Persons with Disabilities (CUAPWD) in the North West Region, Nongning Armelle. The launching ceremony was attended by inclusive education stakeholders promoting community sign language.

Welcoming participants to the launching, the Northwest Regional Delegate of Secondary Education thanked the CBC Health Services for efforts put to make the sign language dictionary a reality. He also commended the venue of the launch, which he said, takes care of the needs of learners with disabilities in the North West Region.

Speaking on behalf of the CBC Health Services Director, Mr. Awa Jacques Chirac said in line with the 2023 World Hearing Day theme, “Ear and hearing care for all! Let’s make it a reality”, the CBC Health Services will focus efforts on ensuring access to ear and hearing care to all who need it and advance ways in which this care can be delivered at the primary care level. He explained that through the Ear and Hearing Care Program launched in 2021 the CBC Health Services has expanded quality Ear and Hearing Care to Cameroonians and the Northwest Region in particular. The SEEPD Programme Manager disclosed that in response to the increasing demand for hearing aids, the CBC Health Services has initiated a Hearing Aids Dispensing Program which will facilitate the procurement, dispensing and management of clients using hearing aids.

The sign language dictionary was produced in line with the recommendation of the World Federation of the Deaf for emerging countries to develop their own sign languages based on their culture. It is also aimed at mitigating frustrations faced by deaf children in their education without any reference sign language textbooks or dictionaries in bookshops to facilitate their education. It is a pedagogic tool intended to assist families of children with hearing loss, teachers in inclusive schools, and community leaders to learn sign language within a very short period of time.

NW Regional Delegate of Secondary Education appreciates SEEPD Programme for making the sign language dictionary a reality

In his closing remarks, the representative of the Regional Delegate of Basic Education, Bafon Lahidou lauded the CBC health Services for the time and resources put to come out with the dictionary. He called on the stakeholders to go back and ensure effective use of the dictionary for progress in the academic pursuits of learners with hearing impairments. He promised advocacy on their part for the dictionary to be moved to the concerned ministries for eventual inclusion in the forth coming booklist for use in primary and secondary schools.

The Chairperson of CUAPWD, Nongning Armelle speaking earlier on, appreciated the SEEPD Programme for the initiative, saying it has come to bridge the communication gap between deaf persons and the rest of the community members.

Ear Screening for Mayors
Another significant innovation in the celebration of the 2023 World Hearing Day was a free ear and hearing screening for Mayors of some 17 Member Councils of the North West Regional Branch of the United Cities and Councils of Cameroon (UCCC). The screening was done on March 2, 2023 by a team from the CBC Health Services in partnership with the North West Regional Branch of the UCCC still within the context of the SEEPD Programme. This was during a meeting of the North West Regional branch of the UCCC that held at the conference hall of the North West Regional Assembly.

Ear screening for Mayors

In his welcome address, the President of the North West Regional branch of the United Cities and Councils and Of Cameroon, Mayor Awoh Ndang Denis welcomed the Director of CBC Health Services who was represented by the Coordinator of the Ear and Hearing Care Project, Mr. Achateseh Godwill.  Mayor Ndang recognized and appreciated the CBC Health Services noting that it is a major partner of UCCC following an MoU signed with the SEEPD Programme in November 2022. The partnership, the Mayor said, marked an important face lift for all Councils in terms of disability inclusive development. He revealed that it is against this partnership that the CBC Health Services was providing free ear screening and checking vital signs of the Mayors.

A key highlight during the UCCC meeting was a presentation on the role of Municipalities in the promotion of Deaf Culture and Access to Ear and Hearing Care by the CBC Health Services Ear and Hearing Care Project Coordinator, Mr Achateseh Godwill. He exhorted Mayors to facilitate access to ear and hearing care services for all members of their communities, and facilitate the inclusion of people with hearing loss in all areas of the mainstream life of their communities.

The 2023 World Hearing Day activities by the CBC Health Services were organised within the context of the SEEPD Programme with support from CBM.