DR Congo to make sign language official

In addition to Swahili, Lingala, Kikongo, and Tshiluba, the government of the Democratic
Republic of Congo intends to make sign language the fifth official language. It will be formally
taught in schools to make government services more accessible to those who use sign language.
A sign language dictionary is also being developed by the government.


According to a 2012 assessment by the World Health Organization, the Democratic Republic of
Congo has an estimated two million individuals with vision and hearing impairments. “It’s a
group that has been marginalized for a long time due to communication problems, “Irene
Esambo, the DR Congo’s minister for people with disabilities, said.

There have been incidents of individuals dying while seeking care because they couldn’t explain
themselves, and others losing court cases due to communication difficulties. For the following
30 days, sign language specialists from throughout the country will gather to agree on the signs
to be used in schools, ensuring a consistent approach.

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