The disabled say protective gear is costly

Wednesday November 03 2021
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Teachers accompany pupils of HVP Gatagara School in Rwamagana district. Persons with disabilities say they are not able to afford PPEs due to high costs. PHOTO | FILE


Persons with disabilities have decried high cost of personal protective equipment.

They said high costs of PPEs is limiting their access to public health information on basic virus protocols.

In particular, people with hearing and speaking disabilities expressed concerns over lack of face masks to cater for their needs as they use sign language to communicate, while accompanying it with lip-reading especially while in public.

“There is a greater need of availing the public with facemasks that can reveal the mouth to facilitate lip-reading. Such face masks aren’t available, but we have witnessed the face shields, which can be of greater use too,” said Tadeo Uwitonze, a resident of Gasabo District in Ndera sector, who is a father to a daughter with hearing and speaking disability.

Those who spoke to Rwanda Today indicate they communicate better with the public through seeing and observing the faces, making lip-reading is very vital.

However, in absence of transparent protective kits, the disabled people and those who support them find themselves compelled to remove the facemasks to be able to smoothly communicate, raising concerns of safety.


For many, it has been uneasy to communicate and access public health information ever since the country declared wearing of facemasks mandatory, alongside other protocols to curb the spread of the virus.

“We have received many concerns on masks being barriers to communication for deaf women and the deaf community in general, from inclusive school mainly where teachers don't use sign language and their students depend on lip-reading,” said Dativa Mukashema, the Rwanda National Association of Deaf women (RNADW)’s Programme Director.