Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday repeated a call for all television stations to have sign language experts to interpret news to deaf viewers.
The call was made during a ceremony to transfer the management of the school for the blind and deaf children of Krousar Thmey to the Education Ministry in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district.
Mr Hun Sen said that only a handful of television stations engaged sign language interpreters following a previous call and requested others to follow suit so that deaf people can also have access to the news.
“Any television station that refuses to employ an interpreter is limiting the rights of deaf people,” he noted. “So, the owners of all television stations please follow this order because blind people can hear the news but a deaf person cannot and needs the interpreters.”
Mr Hun Sen said this is the last time he is making the request and from now on he will monitor all television channels to see if they have hired sign language interpreters.
He noted that if he found any channel which do not use them he would call up the television station owners to explain why they have not done so.
Mr Hun Sen said that if owners claim that they will be losing profits by hiring the interpreters, he will ask them to provide an audit of the expenditure for each programme.
“I am prepared to help pay for the sign-language experts in order to ensure the rights of all people in the Kingdom to access information through television,” he added.
Sao Phirun, head of news at Bayon and BTV television stations, yesterday said that Bayon broadcasts news three times a day and provides a sign language interpreter during the evening news which has the highest viewership.
“The Bayon TV station regularly provides sign language interpreters, because it is good that we can provide information to those who cannot hear,” he said.
Mr Phirun noted that BTV’s news program did not have any interpreter yet but would respond to the government’s call and hire them soon.
“To add a sign language interpreter in the news segment does not cost much and we will provide a suitable amount of money for them,” he said.
Em Chan Makara, secretary-general of the Social Affairs Ministry’s Disability Action Council, said during the National Deaf Day last year that Cambodia currently has 524,000 people with disabilities, of whom more than 43,000 are deaf.
He urged the use of sign language for deaf people in ministries, institutions and all major programs, especially on TV stations, in order for deaf people to understand what general people say and could get information like non-disabled people.
The Krousar Thmey organisation was first established in 1991 as the “National Centre of Education for the Blind and Deaf People” to train teachers for blind and deaf people and also to produce and provide study materials for them.