A 305-page Ghanaian sign language dictionary has been launched at the Tetteh Ocloo School for the Deaf at Adjei Kojo in the Greater Accra Region.
The dictionary designed for use by people who are hearing impaired in the country provides a common point of reference for sign language in the Ghanaian context and help users to communicate effectively.
The objective of the dictionary, developed with support from UNICEF, the Peace Corps and other donors, forms part of the continuous effort of the Ghana National Association for the Deaf to promote the teaching of sign language in the country.
A Deputy Minister of Education, Rev John Ntim Fordjour, who launched the book, said statistics indicated that five per cent of the global population were people living with hearing loss.
He said the World Health Organisation (WHO) had revealed that two per cent of children between the ages of five and 14 in sub-Saharan Africa, were hearing impaired.
This population, the Deputy Minister indicated, possessed a special talent which could not be left untapped and undeveloped and that was why the government had prioritised the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Goal Four.
Rev. Fordjour explained that the SDG Four aimed to ensure that by the year 2030 every child had access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education to prepare them for primary education.
He called on families, teachers, doctors and all others in the society to take sign language communication seriously in order for them to communicate quickly and effectively with those who used sign language.
The Deputy Director General of the Ghana Education Service, (GES) in charge of Management Services, Anthony Boateng, on behalf of the Director-General of GES, Prof. Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, said the GES was working with all stakeholders to ensure equal access to all levels of education, including persons with special needs.
The Country Representative of UNICEF, Anne-Claire Dufay, said if Ghana was to achieve the SDG Four on inclusive education, then all segments of society must embrace the document and effectively use it to help break the barriers to communication with the deaf.
She said children with disability were less likely to acquire a foundational reading and numeracy skills, however, with the launch of the Ghanaian sign language dictionary, it would go a long way to address the needs of children with special needs and promote inclusive education.