The College of Health Sciences (CHS) through its Department of Health Promotion and Disability Studies, and the Steering Committee of the GNAD-KNUST Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) held a bilateral meeting with the Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD) at the CHS boardroom on 15th February 2022, to deliberate and fashion out modalities for the implementation of a training of trainers programme for Ghanaian Sign Language (GhSL) Instructors in Ghana.
In recognition of the roles of KNUST and GNAD in the promotion and implementation of collaboration, equality, and contribution to the development of an inclusive society, the KNUST through its College of Health Sciences entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with GNAD in 2020 for a period of five (5) years to promote among others, teaching, learning and development of GhSL as a medium of communication in Ghana. The focus of this meeting was therefore on progress made with respect to the development of a standard GhSL curriculum, and capacity building for GhSL Instructors. As a result, Training of trainers programme for 20 GhSL Instructors across the country will be held at KNUST under the MoU from Monday, 14th March to Friday, 1st April 2022, and certification of participation will be issued to deserving participants by KNUST.
In his opening remarks, the Chairman of the meeting, Professor Christian Agyare (Provost, CHS) indicated that the University management attaches so much importance to the teaching and learning of Ghanaian Sign Language as part of its contribution towards inclusive society as enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Professor Agyare further made known that KNUST is the only university in the country at the moment where all health professional trainees are taught to develop competencies for the use of GhSL in their prospective professional practice. The goal is to provide access to barrier-free communication between health professionals and clients with speech or hearing impairment without a third party. He expressed the hope of the University Management to obtain adequate numbers of GhSL experts, and Teaching and Learning materials in the near future to be able to deploy the study of GhSL to the other programmes run by the University. He intimated that plans are on-going to seek professional support from experts of the Department of Communication Design to develop interactive content and open education resource materials for the learning of GhSL.
Mr. Juventus Duorinaah, the Executive Director of GNAD, recounted the need for the GhSL Training of Trainers programme. He indicated that during the last meeting of GNAD with KNUST in Accra, in 2021, there were discussions on how to improve the skills of GhSL Instructors. One of the strategies was to develop a standardized curriculum for teaching Ghanaian Sign Language (GhSL), and capacity-building initiatives. He, therefore, introduced Stephanie Linder, Project Coordinator of the Danish Deaf Association as a partner to aid GNAD in the development of the structured GhSL curriculum and modules, as well as facilitating the GhSL Instructors training programme.
Ms. Stephanie Linder has been working closely with Mr. Richard Doku for the past month to develop a content framework for basic, intermediate, and advanced GhSL courses. “The project is important because it will bridge the communication gap between Deaf and hearing people and create equal access to information,” she said. Mr. Richard Doku, Sign Language Officer, GNAD, then presented to members work done so far on the GhSL curriculum.
Speaking on behalf of the Chairman who had excused himself for another official engagement, Prof. Anthony K. Edusei of the Department of Health Promotion and Disability Studies, who acted as Chairman, thanked members for the insightful contributions made during the meeting in his closing remarks and further urged the Steering Committee members to work hard to complete the work on the curriculum by the middle of the year.