16 September 2021
During the training and awareness sessions on the correct use of masks, hand washing and other “barrier gestures”, the team of the Access to Health Services in Kinshasa (ASSK) project knew that they were not reaching the entire population. Deaf and mute people were the ones left out, as even official instructions were rarely translated into sign language. The idea of the smiley face mask came about through discussions with professionals who help people with disabilities.
The smiley face mask, which enables deaf and dumb people to read lips, was introduced during a training session on hygiene measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, facilitated by the ASSK project, a CCISD project in consortium with the International Health Unit of the University of Montreal.
Willy Shifele is president of the ASBL Provul’ Agency, which campaigns for the rights of people living with disabilities in DR Congo: “[With] this COVID-19 awareness project with ASSK, we are training teachers from the village Bondeko, which is a school for the deaf, so that they in turn can go and train the deaf.
Dominique Ngandu, a teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing, says he is satisfied with the initiative: “This is a very, very important training for us as psychologists and pedagogues to sensitise our young deaf pupils on prevention and control of infections so that we do not contaminate each other with this Covid-19 pandemic.
Here is a short video on the story (French only).