With the usage of sign language at the Municipal Assembly of Biratnagar Metropolitan City on June 24, Biratnagar has become the first local government to use sign language for official purpose in State no.1.
The Municipal Assembly, held at Birendra auditorium hall of the city, saw announcements of plan and policy as well as the budget for the upcoming fiscal. Santoshi Ghimire, the sign language interpreter associated with the Biratnagar-based Koshi Deaf Association, facilitated the use of sign language to the hearing-impaired audience of the Municipal Assembly. The program was also run both via online platforms and on live television broadcasting of Makalu Television.
”This is a humble and great beginning to include sign language as envisioned in our Constitution as fundamental rights”, opined Sitaram Ojha, the president of the Federation of Deaf association of Nepal, State-1 Committee. Talking to the RSS, Ojha added, ”Other local governments should also follow this noble initiative.”
The story behind the usage of sign language
The Municipal Assembly of Biratnagar Metropolitan City was scheduled to begin on June 24. Just couple of days ago, the office-bearers of the Koshi Deaf association and interpreter Santoshi Ghimire approached the metropolis.
Together with chairperson Sunita Tiwari , secretary general Ranjan Niraula and treasurer Jiwan Dahal, interpreter Ghimire frequented the metropolis office. They pressed for the urgency of the use of sign language.
”We have a deaf population of 500 in Biratnagar alone and we have secondary level deaf school also”, informed Ghimire, ”This is the reason we need to have communication of local government even in sign language.” Ghimire said it is compulsory to use sign language in other local levels of Morang as the district has 2,423 hearing-impaired population.
Just a day before, mayor Bhim Parajuli endorsed the proposal and asked to proceed ahead officially in coordination with the staff of the metropolis Punam Dahal. And, thus began the first use of Nepali sign language in the local government of the state-1.
It may be noted that at the national level, Butwal Sub-Metropolitan City was the first to use sign language for the official purpose.
The historic sign language usage is also a starting point to create more sign language interpreters in the metropolis, said Ghimire. ”One or two individuals are not enough to work on the entire programs of the metropolis. Therefore, there are voices for more sign language interpreters.”
Kausal Niraula, the press coordinator at the Biratnagar Metropolitan City, said the metropolis is always serious about hearing-impaired community of the city.
”Previously we had created jobs for hearing impaired members of our community in traffic management and pay parking lots”, said Niraula. He added, ”Unfortunately, the jobs have been paused this year owing to road expansion and construction. Nevertheless, metropolis is ready to support in any way we can in the days ahead.”
State-1 ahead in sign language: from TV news to governmental use
Despite lack of sign language interpreters, State no.1 is ahead in terms of usage of sign language.
Chief Minister Sherdhan Rai used sign language for the first time in the State on April 13. He used sign language while addressing the State on the auspicious occasion of New Nepali Year of 2077 BS, which was broadcasted via NTV Itahari.
Just a month later, NTV Itahari started daily sign language broadcasting since May 14. The evening news of 7 PM includes sign language. Based on the ten-yearly census of 2011, the total population of hearing-impaired in the state-1 is 14,616.
Source: National News Agency Nepal