KSAC representatives to learn sign language
Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer
Mayor of Kingston, Angela Brown Burke has announced that work is underway to train persons at the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) in sign language.
Making reference to the Disabilities Bill that was passed in the House of Representatives last month, she said this should be seen as an avenue through which all members in the society are given equal opportunities.
"It goes further than using sign language or knowing the art, what it does is, it helps us as a society to realise that there are differences and begin to see our people for who they really are," the mayor told journalists following the KSAC's monthly meeting last week.
"As a local authority we have to provide services to everyone, because the country is not homogeneous."
Improve customer service
She said she also hopes that this will improve customer service at the corporation in ensuring that persons from all facets of life are catered to.
"We talk about physical challenges but we have to begin to make accommodations for persons who are challenged in other areas. We used to have municipal police as our customer service representatives but we found that it wasn't working. So we have been doing some changes in that area which will include sign language," she said.
"Even basic sign language would go a far way in assisting our customers to feel more comfortable and inclusive and that is what we are striving for."
The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona also announced that students who are interested will be able to do a first degree in sign language in the next academic year.
Dr Keren Cumberbatch, lecturer in the department and the only person in the world with a linguistics PhD with focus on Caribbean sign language, said diploma and BA programmes were introduced in 2006, but were only extended to a select group of people who were referred by the Jamaica Association for the Deaf.
She said the priority now is to prepare professionals who can communicate using sign language.