We have been sidelined, people with hearing impairment say

Some of the members of Isiolo deaf community during a meeting at Mulata on June 25, 2022. 

Photo credit: Waweru Wairimu I Nation Media Group

People with hearing impairment in Isiolo County have decried neglect by the county government and elected leaders saying they were not addressing their grievances.

They said they were struggling to access crucial services such as health due to lack of interpreters at public hospitals.

“The lack of interpreters makes it hard for us to get services in hospitals and government offices because we are unable to express ourselves,” Ms Frida Karambu said during a meeting at Mulata organized by deaf tutor Mumina Huka.

She said the Governor Mohamed Kuti administration should develop policies to make it mandatory for all public offices to hire interpreters to enhance access to various services.

The members said they were also being discriminated against during employment by county and national government despite having the requisite documents.

They cited the recent recruitment of polling clerks by the electoral agency as among the activities that they were not informed and called for thorough civic education targeting persons living with disabilities.

“Majority of us have completed Form Four and we would have applied for the IEBC jobs had we been notified of the opportunities in time. Majority of us are hopeless due to lack of income,” she said.

The group’s youth leader Jaldesa Mohammed said they were not being considered for empowerment programs and are never invited to the meetings.

He said the government ignored them during relief food distribution, exposing their families to suffering.

“When Covid-19 struck, the county and national government issued free masks and sanitizers to the public but we were forgotten,” Mr Mohammed said.

He said some of the parents were still stigmatized and needed psychosocial support.

The group also wants to be considered for a nomination post in the Isiolo County Assembly after the August 9 elections saying the blind and physically handicapped had benefited in the past and current regime.

“It is our time and we appeal to concerned persons and offices to consider our request for better representation and championing of our rights,” they said in a speech read out by Ms Huka.

Senior chief Hassan Hokicha who represented Isiolo County Commissioner Geoffrey Omoding assured the group that their grievances would be addressed.

“We were not aware of the issues you have raised but I assure you that we will expeditiously work on them. We are sorry for the challenges,” Mr Hokicha told the group.

He said the government will ensure information on available government opportunities is shared promptly for them to apply as “they deserve to be employed” as long as they have the requisite documents.