Special persons’ media access act to cater information needs

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    The Access to the Media (Deaf) Persons Act, 2022, a long-awaited step will ensure provision of information, knowledge, and entertainment to the special persons.

    Talking to APP here on Monday, Development Director at Family Educational Services Foundation (FESF) Sarah Shaikh said the government had taken a step in the right direction to add Pakistan Sign Language for catering information needs to the local deaf population.

    She said that with the explosion of broadcast information on hundreds of channels, in multiple languages including English, Urdu, Sindhi, Punjabi, and Foreign Languages, it was important to give access of information to special persons. “Special persons were deprived of basic information and knowledge since ‘Boltey Haath’ program was halted”, she added.

    Sarah said that the deaf community in particular had lagged behind in terms of information reach and they had been struggling to get the translation of important news relevant to them. She said that knowledge of basic life processes, services, and opportunities, along with entertainment had been limited to them.

    She said that with the inclusion of Sign Language in broadcast and digital media, the deaf community would be able to access information and knowledge along with getting the ability to interact with the community at large with confidence and knowledge. It will also open the way for academic and career opportunities and prepare them to be better citizens of the state, she maintained.

    She said with the announcement of the law, the best signers in the country would be available to participate in supporting broadcast networks. She said there was a dearth of signers in the country and considering which media hubs would have to float advertisements to ensure a stringent selection. Sarah highlighted that criteria were in place to weed out any unprofessional or unskilled sign language interpreters. “Both Deaf and K/CODA’s (Kin/Child of Deaf Adults) are ideal for these positions as interpreters” she added.

    She said there was a limited number of sign language interpreters in the country and the majority were engaged in academic and skills training careers. —APP