It is the legal and ethical obligations of social workers to address the needs of diverse clients through non-discrimination standards and culturally competent practice, and this includes appropriately addressing the needs of clients with disabilities, such as those who are hearing impaired.

In line with that, the Association for People with Hearing Impairment (Aphi) – under the leadership of Anita Adeline Gardner – in partnership with the social affairs department within the Ministry for Employment and Social Affairs is hosting a sign language training programme for local social workers to give them sufficient knowledge and skills to properly accommodate for people with hearing impairment, while enabling them to also become familiar with the policies that protect the rights of clients with such condition.

The sessions are taking place at the Centre for the Deaf of Seychelles at Mont Fleuri.

As a sign of support for the social workers and trainers, Minister for Employment and Social Affairs Patricia Francourt, along with principal secretary for Social Affairs Linda William-Melanie yesterday visited the centre, where they had the chance to see and experience the progress of the learners through various presentations and demonstrations.

Minister Francourt said the training will go a long way to ensure that individuals with hearing impairment can communicate with service providers should they require the service of social workers.

She noted that since social workers need to uphold and respect the dignity of their clients, the training will eliminate the language barrier and allow them to better understand the need of individuals with hearing impairment who come to them for service, while it will also foster more confidence in their client to relate directly to the social worker, rather than through an interpreter.

Minister Francourt described the relationship between the Aphi and the department of Social Affairs as strong, and noted that the former has benefited from support, through funding, from the department of social affairs which has stood steadfast in the background with the association, following its continuous progress.

She commended the first group of social workers who have taken the bold step to take up sign language, while hoping that more will follow suit.

Minister Francourt also pledged her ministry’s commitment to take steps and to ensure that it accommodates the needs of all service users, while remaining committed to ensuring that the training is not limited to only social workers, but to other staff of the ministry, since it is a people’s ministry, in daily contact with different groups in the society.


Roland Duval