The Deaf Association of Samoa has been actively involved in the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuing that information and advice is accessible for persons who are deaf and hearing impaired. Faleasi Loto and Maseline Iuta both work at the Deaf Association as interpreters. Every week, they interpret the Ministry of Health’s Health of a Nation programme on national TV. “This is a major milestone for Samoa, “explains Faleasi.
“It is the first time that deaf interpreters have interpreted health information at a national level.”
To ensure the deaf community has full access to information, the Deaf Association also runs an online video campaign, which explains Government restrictions and provides practical advice on how to prevent and prepare for COVID-19.
Faleasi and Maseline’s work is the result of years of advocacy for representation of people with disabilities in disaster preparedness and response. “This is the most inclusive disaster response that Samoa has ever coordinated at a national level”, says Faleasi. “It has taken many years of hard work to make sure that persons who are deaf and hearing impaired are represented and included in these sorts of responses.
“Through our work, we ensure that the deaf community of Samoa is empowered to make informed decisions about their health during this unprecedented global crisis”