KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 — The Penang Deaf Association (PDA) is appealing to the government to allocate spaces for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) of the disabled community as many of these groups are now facing financial problems due to a lack of donations.
Association treasurer Abdul Azim Khor Abdullah said the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted many people and this is especially felt by the disabled community as they now have fewer donors.
“For the hearing impaired, our disability is not apparent so we are often forgotten and now with the pandemic, PDA is getting even less donations to continue our daily operations,” he said in sign language, which was then interpreted by Siti Zubaidah Mohd Lani.
He said PDA has to pay a monthly rental of RM1,000 for its office and it can only afford one full-time interpreter.
This one full-time interpreter has to help over 4,000 hearing impaired individuals in Penang.
The lone interpreter will have to constantly travel from one place to another to help interpret for the hearing impaired in court, at the police station, in hospitals and at many other places where they need to communicate with people of normal hearing.
“This means that if the interpreter is occupied in one place, if there are others in need of an interpreter, they will have to wait... so imagine if it is a situation in a hospital that needs urgent attention,” he said.
He said if the government can provide free office space for NGOs of the disabled community, including the PDA, it would help the community reduce costs.
“These associations are needed to assist the disabled community, just like the PDA provides the sign language interpreter services to its members,” he said.
Azim said there is still a lack of awareness among the public and especially in government departments where the hearing impaired are often ignored.
He personally has been turned away at the counters of government agencies when he tried to communicate through writing and he was ignored.
“I had to go back on another day with an interpreter,” he said.
He said it is also common for the hearing impaired to be jeered and laughed at when they use sign language or when they can’t hear someone speaking.
He said awareness is still very much lacking and he hopes that the government can collaborate with PDA to create more awareness on the needs of the hearing impaired.
The PDA sells sign language books, calendars and organise activities such as jumble sales and fun runs to raise funds but due to the pandemic, it has not been able to conduct most of its activities.
Those who wish to help may contact PDA at 04-226 0160, 017-202 0061 or go to pda.org.my.
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