GNAD is a not-for-profit membership organization established in 1968 with the core objectives of advocating and being the voice of nearly 500,000 Deaf people in Ghana. Since GNAD was established about 54 years ago, GNAD has over the past years advocated for the equal rights of the deaf people and its community.
Past years have seen a growing interest in issues surrounding Ghanaian Sign Language (GHSL) and the rights of deaf people. It is the aim of GNAD to ensure that deaf people are not left behind in the march towards agenda 30 of the SDGs. Some of these developing interests around GHSL are;
- Almost all the public universities and colleges in Ghana now engaged Sign Language Interpreters (SLIs) so that deaf students can have equal access with some universities having over 40 deaf students at a time
- The Ministry of Education (MOE) Ghana, has approved the 3rd edition of the GhSL Dictionary and encouraged it in basic schools.
- The parliament of Ghana has engaged the services of 3 SLIs who provide interpreting services on the floor of the parliament.
- Through the partnership with the Ministry of Health (MOH)/Ghana Health Services (GHS), the teaching of basic Ghanaian Sign language (GHSL) is now ongoing in all nurses and mid-wife schools in Ghana.
- GNAD In 2017, started a Diploma program at the Department of Educational Foundations, UCC leading to the award of Diploma in Ghanaian Sign Language Interpret
These are some challenges that GNAD has also observed, first of all, we don’t have a standardized curriculum for teaching Ghanaian Sign Language, secondly, we don’t have enough qualified GhSL teachers and lastly, we have a very few and limited teaching and learning materials (TLMs) for the few teachers who teach GhSL, and these have led to confusion among the institutions that teach SL. For example, all nursing and midwifery training institutions do not have a standardized curriculum or teaching guide for both teachers and students. Teachers develop their own material to teach SL which isn’t the best.
If Ghana can achieve good integration of deaf people into all institutions, we must have a standardized way of training people for a common outcome. We, therefore, need to have a standardized curriculum and also train people from all the regions in Ghana to promote SL teaching and support the various universities and colleges to promote GhSL teaching and research. For these reasons, GNAD in partnership with KNUST has planned a two weeks training program for 29 sign language instructors from different places, universities, colleges, hearing schools, private institutions, the school for the deaf, and regional SL training centers.
The training has three important goals;
- GNAD wants to train and develop the skill and knowledge of the 29 participants so that they can lead and provide quality teaching of GhSL to the people who are interested in learning SL in their various locations, schools, and institutions,
- GNAD wants to take the participants through a drafted GhSL curriculum/teaching guide to enable them to teach and promote standardized SL teaching in their respective locations and institution.
- GNAD want to make effort to promote the regional and institutional level of Sign Language teaching so that anyone can learn in their own region or institution.
The 29 participants are made up of professional teachers from different institutions, Sign Language interpreters, resource persons from various institutions, and some professional teachers from the private hearing schools. We happened to have some of the participants from KNUST, and GNAD is hopeful that the participant from KNUST will initiate effective teaching of SL to the medical and pharmacy student to ensure that after completion these students will be able to communicate with the deaf people directly in their field of work, GNAD and KNUST on the 19th of April 2022 commenced the two weeks training program.
Professor Anthony Kwaku Adusei, the chairman for the opening ceremony in his remarks stated that KNUST has attached a lot of relevance to the program and it’s in fulfillment of the University’s vision of inclusiveness in its core values. Professor Kwaku Adusei then requested the massive support of everyone to make this training a success.
The Provost of the College of Health Sciences, Professor Christian Agyare revealed that KNUST made it known that KNUST is the first public university in Ghana to include Sign Language as a mandatory course in the curricula of academic programs in the College of Health Sciences. He also stated that one of the goals of this initiative is to ensure that healthcare practitioners are able to communicate health information effectively with deaf clients without an interpreter.
Professor Charles Ofosu Marfo, the Provost of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor, commended the initiative and hopeful that the Ghanaian Sign Language will be scaled up through the training.
This program was possible with financial support from the Danish Deaf Association (DDL) and the support of the KNUST team led by the Provost of the College of Health Science providing us with the needed facilities to start the training program. GNAD sincerely hopes that its partnership with KNUST will grow strong. GNAD also encouraged the participants to make good use of the training and ensure that they use the knowledge effectively to promote effective teaching of GhSL in the county.