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‘Make sign language official’

‘Mantoetse Maama

MASERU — Members of Lesotho National Federation of the Disabled (LNFOD) and the National Association of the Deaf Lesotho (NADL) want sign language to be recognised as the third official language in Lesotho.
Sesotho and English are the country’s official languages.
The request was presented by a delegation of the two organisations in parliament on Wednesday.
In their appeal, the organisations pleaded with MPs to come up with a law that specifically protects and guarantees the right of disabled people.
LNFOD programme co-ordinator Mapitso Mosito was part of the lobby delegation.
“In Lesotho people with disabilities face and suffer exclusion in many aspects of their daily lives,” Mosito said.
“A number of barriers prevent people with disabilities from participating as equal members of society, and from accessing the opportunities and basic services which our able-bodied counterparts enjoy.
“This violates their human rights, and leads to both poverty and isolation.
“People with hearing deficiency are suffering because they cannot communicate with members of the society because they cannot use sign language.
“Those who are trained do not practise it; even at school it is not taught so we want it to be taught.”
She said disabled people took an “extremely significant campaign action to write to their MPs, putting forward their personal requests for MPs’ attention” because they wanted to be heard.
“There were 278 letters to more than 46 MPs which were personally handed over to the MPs,” Mosito said.
“Among the issues that were highlighted in those letters were that MPs should influence cabinet to adopt disability as a national priority and advise ministers to mainstream disability as a cross-cutting issue in their different ministerial priorities, policies and strategies.”

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