Mon, 18 May 2009 Feature Article



They have mouths, but they speak not... They have ears, but they hear not. (Psalms 115:5-6, King James Bible)

This quotation is in no way referring to whoever cannot hear physically, but come to think of it, do we have people around us, whom this scripture perfectly describes outside the spiritual?

Ray Charles (1930-2004), a famous American pianist and singer, who lost his sight at the age of seven, once said: “I don't know what would have happened to me if I hadn't been able to hear.”

Do the inhabitants of this great country believe in the existence of the physically challenged in our societies? We mock them, exploit them, ignore them in decision-making and the most excruciating of them all, shun them from our company.

I have always loved the disabled, but I had never taught of their plight so deeply until I had an unfortunate encounter with an army officer that almost made me deaf in one ear.

After the encounter, my hearing ability became very shallow; it was as if I had air blowing through my ear consistently. I called on my doctor who after thorough examination informed me that my tympanic membrane had been perforated.

Even with perforation (which is subject to cure overtime), I could not handle, how much more our brethren who through no fault of theirs, find themselves in a perpetual 'no hearing' situation.

What if you wake up one day to find you have developed a disease or obstruction in your outer or inner ear that impedes your hearing? What if you are involved in an accident of any kind and you lose your hearing ability?

The time has come for the physically challenged, particularly the hearing impaired, to be shown a little more care and concern. Let me ask some few questions:

How many of our religious bodies, the churches especially have interpreters for the deaf who may accidentally walk into the church? How many of our tertiary institutions have an avenue created for the deaf? How many of our all-time great companies employ them? How many government officials (appointed or elected), come from within the deaf? How many deaf teachers have been honoured by our country as we speak? What motivation do they enjoy in our developing country? How many programmes on our television networks provide the platform for their participation? (For radio, the earlier we forget about it, the better).

People, what kind of society are we creating? Joy FM may not be of use to the deaf, but may be a good source to them. Our popular radio personalities may not be popular to the deaf, but they recognise Frema Ashkar, Gifty Anti, Jackie Appiah, Kwami Sefa-Kayi, and a host of television personalities. Though they do not hear what they say, they know what they represent.

A recent visit to the Demonstration School for the Deaf (DEMODEAF) at Mampong-Akuapem turned out to be one of the saddest days for me to be alive. The school is in a totally deplorable state. One of the best sayings of my Pastor is that, “there is no way your yesterday will be better than your tomorrow,” but Demodeaf of 2000 was better than today.

Most of their facilities are unusable, the environment...

I believe that the most trusted way of updating the deaf on issues presently, is via the internet, but ask if it is available for our dear ones. We keep sending the same resources and facilities to those who hear, see, and talk.

While others need it, we disburse them to those who want it. Is it because they do not have an old students' union, or because none of their products has made it to the top?

What if this same environment under discussion will have to accommodate us in the next week, month, or year? How will we cope? Can we cope with society the way they are doing?

The deaf may not be of concern to you, or to speak in general terms, the physically challenged, but it may happen to you without notice. Let us support the physically challenged (deaf, dumb, blind, lame, etc) and give them a reason to live. The golden rule entreats us to treat others, as we want to be treated. If we do not want the treatment meted out to our brothers to be meted out to us, should we find ourselves in that unfortunate situation, then we have to do the 'right thing.'

I rest my case by borrowing a pragmatic and rather convincing quote from my Spiritual father, Rev. Eastwood Anaba, “... I have come to the conclusion that there are no special people on Earth.”

By: Euclid Addo
E-mail: [email protected]

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