JIS News

Employees at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security are benefiting from a series of sign language training sessions aimed at facilitating better communication with persons, who are hearing impaired.
The training is being conducted by the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD), which is an agency under the Labour Ministry. Sixteen staff members from the Ministry’s North Street and National Heroes Circle offices as well as the National Insurance Scheme office on Ripon Road, are participating in the course, which began two weeks.
Jacqueline Bennett, Social Worker at the JCPD and one of the coordinators of the programme, told JIS News that the training was being undertaken to give “weight” to the National Policy for Persons with Disabilities, which speaks to the fact that persons with disabilities, must be afforded the right to fully participate in society.
“The JCPD,” she pointed out, “offers service to disabled persons all across Jamaica and we think that it is important that persons who give service in the social services and customer service on a whole, need to have the basic skills in sign language, hence we have started this basic sign language course, because deaf persons have to transact business with the Ministry just like any other person.”
The 15-week training programme, which is being funded by the Ministry, commenced in January, and will run until April 15. Mrs. Bennett explained that the programme was being conducted as a pilot in the corporate area, and as at May, would be expanded to offices in St. Catherine, Clarendon, Manchester, and St. Elizabeth.
She informed further, that the programme would be evaluated after the pilot phase, in order to determine its effectiveness.
The course is being taught at the introductory level, but Mrs. Bennett said that the JCPD was interested in offering training in advanced sign language to the Ministry’s staff twice per year.
Executive Director of the JCPD, Ransford Wright, said that one of the goals of his organization, was to expand sign language training to other ministries, noting that it was important that institutions, especially those in the public sector, were equipped to communicate with persons who were deaf.
He noted however, that funding remained a major challenge, and appealed to private sector entities to facilitate expansion of the programme through sponsorship.

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