The Deaf Association of Botswana (DAB) has raised alarm on the poor sign language used to interpret news and other programmed on BTV as having become a major setback for the deaf.
“We cannot even make a follow up on what is being reported on the news because the interpreters are distorting and compromising the information,” said Boitumelo Tshotlego, the Secretary of DAB, in an interview. “We do not understand anything.” ?Tshotlego said the interpreters are disregarding Botswana sign language yet the deaf people in Botswana are acquainted with Botswana sign language not foreign sign language.
“They are imposing on us foreign sign language we are not acquainted with and there is a lot of distortion and confusion; the interpreters are benefiting not us,” she said.
Tshotlego added that when BTV introduced sign language, DAB was involved in the selection of interpreters but now they are not involved in choosing who should interpret.
“We are not given the opportunity to choose the interpreters; we only see them interpreting for us without consultation with our Association,” she said.
Tshotlego said this situation has been worsened by the refusal by BTV to hire deaf people to interpret, saying they cannot hear.
“The people they have hired to interpret are not deaf and they are doing this part time and sign language Interpretation should be a full time job not part-time because you have to constantly update the skills of sign language,” she said.
Tshotlego said the Deaf Association of Botswana has the mandate of approving issues of sign language interpreting and the interpreters are meant to “work with us not for us”.
“DAB must be given respect and recognition in approving and interviewing of interpreters as they are the ones who have been teaching the language for a long time in the country,” she said.
Tshotlego urged BTV to stop involving foreign sign language interpreters without their approval.
In addition, she said the BTV interpreters are giving them a hard time when they are asked to interpret during workshops and conferences as they want to be paid P300/hour.
“We don’t want them to make money on us at while at the same time compromising quality,” she said.