GHANA NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF THE DEAF (GNAD)
The Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD) founded in 198 is the umbrella organization of deaf associations in the ten regions of Ghana. It is recognized as a voluntary Association accredited by the Ministry of Manpower, Youth and Employment GNAD and have been granted permit to operate as a non-governmental organization by the Department of social Welfare and the Registrar of Companies, Ghana. GNAD is a member of the World Federation of the Deaf and the Ghana Federation of the Disabled.
The vision of GNAD is to achieve an active and productive deaf community with access to education and information, and steady economic activities that can sustain and maintain quality and security of life. This is to be achieved by mobilizing members, remove communication barriers, create awareness on deaf issues, and advocate for equal opportunities for the deaf.
The activities of GNAD can be broadly classified into two i.e. (1) enhancing social participation and (2) promoting economic empowerment. Under promoting social participation and inclusion, the organization focus on areas such as reproductive health, family planning, gender based violence and HIV/AIDS. In addition, sports are used as a tool to develop and enhance the physical and social well being of members nationwide. Under the economic empowerment, the association strives to facilitate the creation of income generating activities in the various regions for members who are unemployed.
GNAD UNDER MWANANCHI – PHASE I
The Mwananchi project falls within the premise of enhancing social participation of members. In the Phase I of the project, GNAD seeks to strengthen the deaf movement to be able to effectively lobby and advocate for the recognition of their unique needs in relation to communication and the importance of recognizing sign language as the medium through which they are able to access their human rights. The project further seeks to broaden the education and to throw more light on the consequence of paying little attention to the education children who are deaf. The end result is to breakdown the existing barriers between the deaf and hearing, to challenge pre conceived prejudices and to educate the wider public on deafness and sign language. The project was carried out in 3 districts – Akupim North and Krobo Odumase in the Eastern Region and Gomoa East in the Central Region.
Assessment of the Phase I presented a positive results as progress was recorded with regards to the engagement of key social service institutions in Ho and Ga East District Assemblies. The National Youth Employment program (NYEP) for instance agreed to grant quota allocation of opportunities for the deaf in their respective areas while the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) expressed a commitment to consider free quota registration of GNAD members in the lower income group.
The engagement of the Social Welfare Departments also led to a memorandum of understanding that would ensure timely release of the Deaf share of the Disability component of the District Assembly Common FUND (DACF). There has also been significant coalition building for a unified disability front aimed at prompting the local government authorities to mainstream disability into their development agenda.
At the national level, the Ministry of Health was engaged to mainstream sign language interpretation services into the health care delivery system. The National Council for Tertiary Education has resolved to work closely with the National accreditation board to ensure the mainstreaming of the needs of Deaf students at the tertiary level. Even though some of the key expected outcomes were not realized, the phase one (I) of the DICAP project can be considered to have created an enabling environment upon which further efforts could be based to ensure a transition to a stage of practical realization of the expected results.
The difficulty in accessing good quality health care due to communication barrier is a big challenge to the deaf community. It is estimated that, between mid 2009 and the third quarter of 2011, an estimated fifty seven (57) members of GNAD have died across the country (Source: GNAD Mini Survey, 2011) due to reasons largely attributed to lack of proper diagnosis as a result of communication barrier, general stigmatization and discrimination against the deaf. For this reason, GNAD seeks to focus the Phase II of the Mwananchi Project in identifying and implementing strategies that will facilitate easy accessibility of good quality health care for their members in the Ga East District of the Greater Accra Region. This is to be achieved through the achievement of the stated objectives below.
- To break the communication barrier between the deaf community and district medical officers by ensuring the mainstreaming of sign language interpretation services into the Health care delivery system in Ga East District
- To build the advocacy capacity of the leadership of the deaf community in Ga East District, to be able to advocate for integration of their concerns into the health care delivery system in their districts and to facilitate the development of a local deaf based advocacy strategy with reference to accessible health care for the deaf.
- To ensure that members of the deaf community who cannot afford the National Health Insurance get access to the Health care.