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JUBA - 14 May 2024

South Sudan launches first Sign Language Learning Center in Juba

The Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), in collaboration with Light for the World, inaugurated Juba’s first Sign Language Learning Center on Tuesday. During the ceremony, Edmund Yakani, Executive Director of CEPO, emphasized that enrolling individuals with disabilities in sign language classes would enhance societal inclusion in communication and information sharing.

“As CEPO, in partnership with Light for the World, we believe it is crucial to ensure that sign language becomes a skill every South Sudanese citizen possesses. This enables us to communicate respectfully and effectively with our brothers and sisters who have impairments,” Yakani stated.

Mandela Isaac, Senior Disability Facilitator at Light for the World, underscored the importance of making educational facilities inclusive for people with disabilities.

“Inclusive education cannot be complete if individuals with hearing impairments are excluded from receiving information at schools. Therefore, Light for the World collaborated with the government to develop the National Inclusive Education Policy, launched in 2021. This policy, now government-owned, promotes the rights of persons with disabilities in accessing education,” Isaac explained.

He further highlighted the need for accessible school infrastructure, including classrooms wide enough for wheelchair users and teachers proficient in sign language.

Meanwhile, Kachinga Peter, Chairperson of the South Sudan National Association for the Deaf, highlighted that the establishment of the center aligns with the demands of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, recently ratified by the transitional unity government.

“This centre’s emergence is timely, coinciding with the ratification and signing of the U.N. Convention by our President. It is crucial to translate this commitment into action,” Kachinga emphasized. “South Sudan, amidst numerous challenges, particularly faces communication barriers for persons with disabilities. Today, this center marks a significant step forward in addressing these challenges and benefiting individuals with hearing impairments.”

President Salva Kiir endorsed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on February 21, 2023, making South Sudan the 185th country to ratify the convention.

The U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities serves as a global framework dedicated to advancing and safeguarding the equal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all individuals with disabilities.