University professor calls for sign language to be taught in Tunisian schools

Tunis: University professor and sign language expert Ghassan Sabri has called for sign language to be taught in Tunisian schools and officially integrated into educational programmes from the earliest years. In an interview with TAP TV, Sabri said it was important to spread sign language, which would enable a large number of deaf people in Tunisia to communicate and access their most basic rights as citizens, such as the right to education. In the interview, which was translated into sign language, he added that although there are no official statistics on the number of hearing impaired people in Tunisia, some organisations working in the field estimate that there are 200,000 of them. Sabri pointed out that a report by the United Nations Population Fund on the situation of people with disabilities in several countries, including Tunisia, showed that people with intellectual disabilities and the hearing impaired were among the most marginalised groups. He said that Tunisia, which has signed the United Nati ons Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and ratified many international agreements and charters, does not give people with disabilities the attention they deserve. He added: "The state must be aware of the real needs of people with hearing impairments and give them the right to access information," stressing that this can only be done by making sign language an official language in schools and universities, as well as in vocational training centres and other areas. He added that the representation of people with disabilities in the media, both public and private, is low. "I am a citizen who fulfils all my obligations to my country, but in return I am unable to follow programmes on television, which is unacceptable," he lamented. Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse