"Neither the government understands us nor do we understand the government. But we people with disabilities are facing the problem due to this."
This is what Namrata Bharati, who is hard of hearing, said while relating the problems faced by people like her in lack of interpreters for them. As she said, people with hearing impairment like her are deprived from accessing governmental and non-governmental services in Karnali due to lack of communication.
Bharati is the president of the Association of the Deaf Bheri and Karnali Province. She said although the constitution has made provisions for fundamental rights, they have not been able to directly exercise these rights due to communication and language barriers.
"The Ministry of Social Development is our line ministry but it doesn't have interpreters. When we go to the Ministry to discuss about problems faced by the deaf and people with hearing problem, neither does the Minister can understand us nor the other officials there because there is no sign language interpreters," lamented Bharati.
According to her, once they had proposed to the Ministry to appoint sign language interpreter but it was rejected citing lack of funds. "There is utter need of sign language interpreters in order to put our views and problems in serious manner. We put our views using sign language, but the stakeholders can't understand. When we, a group of women with hard of hearing problem, went to the Ministry, we were neglected just because of our condition and we being women on top of that."
Talking to RSS, Bharati said the Ministry's this kind of behaviour has hurt their feelings. She said the government should understand the problem of the people with hard of hearing and take prompt steps to address it.
Hari Maya Tiwari of Surkhet, the only sign language interpreter in the district, said although she is not a trained interpreter, she has been working as an interpreter merely to facilitate two-way communication.
"The programmes, plans and policies implemented for the benefit of the deaf have not been much effective due to the lack of interpreters. So the government should manage sign language interpreters for having social justice and for building an equitable society," Tiwari suggested.
She stressed that all the government offices should keep sign language interpreters.
Bishnu Prasad Sharma, president of the National Federation of the Disabled, Karnali Province, also stressed on the need of managing sign language interpreters for addressing the problems of the deaf.
"Lack of interpreters has not only highlighted our problem but it has also shown the government's weakness as well. The government should promptly seek a solution to this problem."
Karnali Province Assembly member Jhowa BK called for a realistic data on the numbers of the persons with disability in the Province and their status. She demanded that the government should bring policy specifically for the disabled community to uplift their status. For this to happen there is need for realistic statistics.
We lack a clear data about the people with disabilities. Society seems unaware about the causes of disabilities. Disability in any family is attached with the prestige issue of the family and considered as the bad luck for the entire family. Besides, in many circumstances, persons with disabilities seem reluctant to make their status public and it acts as a barrier for getting their fundamental human rights addressed.
Disabilities Rehabilitation and Development Center, Jumla chair Nandaraj Dhital admitted that society's perception towards the disabled had not been changed. ''They have been deprived of facilities ensured by the government and non-government sectors,'' he said, underlining the need of building atmosphere so that persons with disabilities could have access to public services.
National Federation of Disabled, Nepal general secretary Raju Basnet said the present population of the disabled is 1.94 percent (513,239). Of them, only 250,598 have obtained the identity cards. "70-90 percent persons with disabilities have no access to public facilities.''
In Nepal, 38.3 percent disabilities is due to illness, 33.6 percent are disabled by born, 10.5 percent have been mutilated after falling and 8.3 percent are disabled following accidents. He said, the disability rate could be significantly minimised (by fifty percent) if health and other requirements during pregnancy were fully addressed. He highlighted the need of cooperation and coordination among the three tier government to ensure social, economic, and cultural and health rights of the disabled.
Karnali Province Assembly social development committee chair Devi Oli complained that low presence of people with disabilities and in election, information and communications, economic, social and family-level decision making processes and on the top of that fewer presence of female disabled, lack of accessible and friendly mechanism for them had caused barriers for them to receive social justice.
''The government should be serious and responsible for addressing issues of persons with disabilities,'' Oli addressed. '' Policies, rules and acts to be formulated ahead should attach priority to the guarantee and promotion of human rights of people with disabilities.''
Source: National News Agency Nepal