The Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD) has called on the government to liaise with relevant institutions to correct some misconceptions associated with hearing loss in the country.
The Association has observed that certain societal attitudes and prejudices towards people with hearing loss affect the rate at which people disclose their hearing problems.
In a statement marking World Hearing Day on March 3, GNAD said more concerted efforts could be made to ensure people with hearing problems seek medical attention in a timely manner.
“As we join the international community in observing World Hearing Day, the Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD) would like to reiterate WHO’s warning that hearing loss, if not is not identified and treated early, can have far-reaching consequences.This can include negative impacts on language development, psychosocial well-being and educational attainment.
“Like most people with disabilities, the majority of people with hearing loss are stigmatized, marginalized and do not have access to resources essential to their development. A large number of people have not been screened for early detection for appropriate intervention because the service is not available to them,” the statement said.
As part of efforts to raise awareness of the medical condition, the Association wants the government to provide resources to existing screening and assessment centers to “ensure that school-aged children have access to a early screening for identification of hearing loss for early interventions”.
“Over 80% of children who have varying degrees of hearing loss in Ghana are out of school or do not have access to a specialist teacher or appropriate interventions such as Ghanaian Sign Language. Existing evidence has shown that hearing loss affects the educational attainment of deaf school-aged children in Ghana.
“It is estimated, for example, that one in three deaf children has not attended school during the first four years of schooling, which can have negative consequences on their future development. This situation could be mitigated by early screening, which is crucial in identifying children for early and effective interventions,” the statement added.
Persons with Disabilities Act (Act 715)
The Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD) wants the National Council of Persons with Disabilities to expedite action towards the enactment of the revised Persons with Disabilities Act (Act 715).
This, he says, will help improve access to and use of Ghanaian Sign Language.
“GNAD would like to remind the State that one of the key interventions recommended by WHO for people with hearing loss is age-appropriate sign language. In the context of Ghana, the appropriate language is Ghana Sign Language.
“This WHO recommendation is both in line with international best practice and appropriate for Ghana, where medical technologies, such as hearing aids, language therapy and advanced technologies, are expensive or non-existent.”
The theme of World Hearing Day 2022 is “Hearing for Life, Listening Carefully”.