The First National Bank (FNB) of Botswana has introduced yet another exciting service: the Banking Sign Language Booklet, aiming at improving the communication of those with hearing impairment when they engage in banking activities.
Handing over the 15 paged booklet to the Patron of the Botswana Society for the Deaf, who is also the former President of Botswana, Festus Mogae, the Chief Executive Officer of FNB, Danny Zandamela, said the production of this booklet was a result of partnership between FNBB, Godisa Technologies Trust, Deaf employees and the Botswana Association for the Deaf.
“Godisa Technologies Trust is a non-profit enterprise established to offer hearing impaired people affordable access to hearing through the provision of appropriate technologies,” he explained.
Zandamela made known that the partnership between the FNBB and Godisa Technologies Trust was initiated by FNBB Kgale Branch employees, and they are engaged in sign language classes to gain an understanding of the concepts covered in the Banking Sign Language Booklet.
According to the 2007 World Health Organization Statistics on Hearing, hearing impairment is considered the most prevalent impairment in the world ÔÇô it affects up to estimated 20 percent of a population in a developing country like Botswana, said Zandamela.
In Botswana alone, he said there are nearly 20 000 people with hearing impairment and of every 1 000 babies born one is deaf.
Acknowledging these facts, Zandamela said FNBB saw the need to support the production of the booklet which will go a long way in ensuring that the hearing impaired are not marginalized from the economic activities that are important for a livelihood.
“This is a welcome first step on a long path to preserve Botswana’s non-oral heritage, ensuring that the hearing impaired society will also flourish in an important area of their daily lives ÔÇôbanking,” he said.
Explaining further Zandamela highlighted FNBB’s community engagement as administered through the FNBB Foundation, a Fund which aims to aid in education, arts and culture, support for the disadvantaged and handicapped, sport and recreation and social welfare development in Botswana by identifying beneficiaries who are in need of deserving assistance.
According to Zandamela, FNBB Foundation Fund has a Staff Volunteer Programme that affords the bank’s employees an opportunity to identify a project of their choice and commit time, share skills or donate funds to support the project to achieve it objectives.
Zandamela stated that the long term plan partnership between FNBB and Godisa Technologies Trust is to continue equipping the bank employees with sign language knowledge to eliminate any communication barrier.
“This will help ease communication between banking staff and the hearing impaired,” he concluded.
Receiving the Booklet, former President Mogae said for too long people with hearing impairment have been excluded from many things including banking.
“Therefore, this partnership between FNBB and Godisa Technologies Trust is indeed an important milestone that is going to make a difference,” he said.
With this booklet, Mogae said FNBB had definitely provided an effective answer on behalf of the nation.
“It’s not on everyday that a Banking Institution forms a partnership with an institution with disability and comes out with innovations like this,” he said.
In his conclusion he appealed to other organization to follow in FNBB’s footsteps.