“Fully Inclusive with Sign Language”

On Friday 29th September, MESC hosted a program to commemorate International Deaf Week.  Rev Vaiao Eteuati conducted the sermon to start the program.  Honourable Minister of Education, Afioga Loau Solamalemalo Keneti Sio delivered the key note address.

Amongst those who attended were children with hearing impairments and their parents, school principals and teachers, representatives from disability service providers, disability advocacy organisations and special schools who provide services to children and students living with disability.  

 “Sign Language plays a central role as all spoken languages do, in the context

of understanding the culture of the people who use it to communicate. The

understanding of Deaf culture as well as the recognition of Sign Language is

of major importance for the inclusion of members of the Deaf community in  

everyday life. One of the most important roles in the deaf community is the

 interpreter of Sign Language. The role of the interpreter is to bridge the gap so

that those with hearing problems can communicate easily.” 

This was a clear message the Hon Minister of Education, Sports and Culture relayed to the participants.  He also emphasized that everyone must work together to eliminate the misconceptions and barriers that exist about people with disabilities.  To be fully inclusive, everyone must learn to use sign language especially teachers, teacher aides and everyone who deal with students with hearing impairments.

The program is part of the activities to implement the Inclusive Education Policy for Students with Disabilities (IEPSD).   Presentations were done by APTC Country Manager Pat Vella, MESC ACEO Leota Valma Galuvao, and representatives from SENESE and Loto Taumafai.  Participants also got the opportunity to share their experiences and learn more about sign language.  Another important work highlighted was the Sign Language Dictionary launched earlier this month to assist with the teaching of deaf children and to ensure consistency across all users.  The program concluded with entertainment provided by deaf students who are in the SENESE Deaf Services Unit and attending Loto Taumafai Special School.

The Ministry acknowledges the hard work and support provided by staff of SENESE and Loto Taumafai who assisted with doing the sign language for the day’s program.