Sabine McIntosh of the Deaf Association of Guyana has again expressed the need for a building to house the entity and the establishment of a deaf centre.
“We need a deaf centre where the members of this association can get together and the youths can play games and truly enjoy themselves,” McIntosh told Stabroek News last week. She recalled that the organisation had approached the government two years ago and the Ministries of Education, Health and Human Services are very supportive of the association, but while a location has long been promised, it is yet to materialise.
From her Subryanville home, which also serves as an office for the association, McIntosh pointed out the importance and the need for the Deaf Association of Guyana and said that the main aim of the group is to make the hearing impaired equally functional in society. She recalled that in 2008 she, along with a few other persons, including two deaf persons, formed the association.
McIntosh revealed that her granddaughter, now 17 years old was born hearing impaired.
The association’s services are available to all deaf persons, but McIntosh said the focus is on deaf children and youths. “We are trying to promote them, we provide dancing classes, drama [among other activities],” she explained.
At present, the association is working on developing a sports programme for deaf children at four government schools across Guyana as well as for a private school. In addition, McIntosh said on June 29, there will be a football match between deaf children from Berbice and Georgetown. She added that at present, there are 200 deaf persons from schools across Guyana who are part of the association.
The group is hoping to work along with the Guyana Industrial Training Centre (GITC), the Sophia Training Centre as well as the Institute of Distance and Continuing Education (IDCE) to provide skills and educational training to the hearing impaired. “We are trying to get people to understand that deaf people have a hearing problem but not an intellectual problem,” McIntosh said.
The woman stated that in addition to acquiring proper education, members of the deaf community also face challenges in securing jobs. The issue of employment is one the association is working on relentlessly and thus far, two hearing-impaired persons have been hired at the Pegasus International Hotel and Sterling Products Ltd. The Grand Coastal Hotel has indicated its willingness to hire another hearing-impaired youth in August, she said. “In the intermediate future we will also start to encourage our members of the association to be self-employed. We will introduce hairdressing, barbering, cake decorating among other skills to allow for self-employment,” McIntosh related.
She also mentioned other activities members of the association take part in such as the upcoming concert which is normally held during the same week the annual deaf awareness week is observed. In addition, McIntosh said, the association also holds a sign language spelling competition.
Persons interested in learning sign language can sign up for classes at the IDCE offered by a US Peace Corps volunteer and McIntosh applauded the various government ministries for sponsoring staff members to study sign language there. As of 2012, she said, the association has been an associate member of the World Federation of the Deaf.