Interview with Robert Sampana, the Project Advocacy Officer at the Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD)
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[Image description: Robert Sampana sits behind a table, signing to the camera in Ghana Sign Language. During the 30-minute interview, he sometimes pauses to watch someone off camera toward his left or his right. End image description.]
[A brief summary follows below. This is not meant to be a full transcript.]
Robert Sampana Personal History
- Robert Sampana has worked at the Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD) since 2010. He is now the GNAD Project Advocacy Officer. Before this, he worked for a UK-based non-governmental organization (NGO). This was Action on Disability and Development (ADD).
- He also describes his experience as a student at the Rochester Institute for Technology in New York, USA. He was amazed to realize deaf people can do many things.
Deaf Rights in Ghana
- He furthermore explains many of the challenges that Deaf people experience in Ghana.
- Robert explains how he advocated with the Ghana government to support the right for Deaf people to have sign language interpreters.
- A U.S. Peace Corps volunteer helped with producing a Ghana Sign Language book.
- Robert teaches new deaf advocates by letting them watch when he advocates with the government. They learn by example.
- He has gone to villages and found deaf children who are hidden at home without language. Now some of these children have an education and can sign.
- Deaf adults who still have no language are more challenging. Robert interacts with them so they realize there are other Deaf people.
Disability Law in Ghana
- Ghana has a disability law, Act 715. GNAD is collaborating with different disability organizations to improve this law. They want for Ghana law to align with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Under the current law, there are still few sign interpreters or other deaf rights.
- GNAD promotes the inclusion of Deaf women in their activities and leadership.
- Robert continues talking about why the current law 715 is weak. It is important for Ghana law to comply with international law (CRPD).
- The Ghana government does not yet understand what deaf people need. They are still learning about deafness, blindness, mobility disabilities, and other disabilities.
- Robert Sampana talks about funding challenges.
Watch Robert Sampana explain his work as Project Advocacy Officer for the Ghana National Association of the Deaf. He advocates with the government for deaf rights in Ghana. He also advocates with parents for their deaf children to attend school.