The Silenced and Isolated: Struggles of Ghana’s Deaf Community – 11/09/20 – Stephanie Russo – BorgenMagazine.com – The highest rates of deafness in the world are in sub-Saharan Africa. Ghana’s numbers are not the highest among these countries, but Ghana suffers from a severe lack of resources. A medical case study found that the majority of causes for deafness were preventable, including overexposure to noise, ear infections, problems during childbirth and wrongful use of certain drugs. Ghana’s healthcare system lacks resources such as hearing aid devices, speech therapists and education for the deaf. There are only 14 deaf schools in Ghana. Many of these institutions cannot sustain the financial burden as 80% of the deaf are from low-income communities. In Ghana, some believe that deafness is a curse or the result of sin committed in previous lives. The deaf community is usually viewed as unintelligent because they cannot express themselves vocally. It is believed that parents and the greater community do not understand deafness and become frustrated when children cannot express themselves. Children are often isolated from their communities. There is also major stigma against sign language because it is not viewed as a “normal” way of communicating. No single sign language is used, but there have been four separate sign languages found in the country. With special education and sign language classes so normalized in the United States, it is easy to forget that resources are significantly lacking in Ghana and other African countries. Breaking cultural barriers is the first step in providing primary education to the deaf community. While there is a lot of work that still has to be done, progress is being made by organizations like Deaftronics, who make solar-powered hearing aid batteries, and the Ghana National Association for the Deaf, who teach students lifestyle choices and diverse skills. This is the start of significant societal change.
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