People with hearing impairment in Seychelles will have adequate space to conduct their activities in a new centre that will be established next year, said a member of the local association.
The setting up of the centre, which is being spearheaded by a non-government organisation -- Association of People with Hearing Impairment (APHI) -- will be located at the former maritime school in the central district of Mont Fleuri.
Anita Gardner, the chairperson of APHI, said that for too long the deaf community in Seychelles has been operating without a proper centre.
"As the association, we are operating in a small office and the students with hearing impairment are currently using a classroom at Au Cap School for learning. In general, we are dealing with more than 1,000 deaf people in Seychelles. We need a larger space where we can meet for educational purposes and conduct our activities" said Gardner.
The centre will be funded through a Japanese grant of $76,000 (SCR1 million) for assisting grassroots human security Project.
At the signing ceremony earlier this year, Shana David, a young deaf girl with hearing impairment, thanked the Japanese embassy on behalf of the deaf community. She said with the centre's access to services and programmes it will be easier as everything will be under the same roof.
David called on all deaf people including those on Praslin and La Digue to make use of the services once the centre is ready.
Once renovation is completed on the building, the new centre will be the first of its kind in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, and equipped with modern facilities for people with hearing impairment.
Gardner said, "The centre will be a one-stop hub for deaf people to receive a different kind of services. Therefore it is very important."
The centre is expected to provide educational services up to the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) level. The curriculum will be similar to that of state schools but teachers will be trained in sign language to facilitate teaching.
"The aim is to also have qualified graduates coming from the deaf community in Seychelles. These people are deaf, but their brains are functioning very well. They should also be occupying key positions in employment," said that Gardner.
She added that "after completing their studies, the students will be able to acquire effective communication skills to integrate into employment, but in return, the government needs to be well prepared to accommodate these people."
The facilities at the centre will also be used by older people with hearing impairment as it will be equipped with trained interpreters which can help them with different things.