Call for standard data collection on number of hearing impaired in Brunei
| James Kon |
DATIN Paduka Hajah Adina binti Othman, Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports has called on the needs for various government agencies to agree and implement a National Registrar of Persons including the hearing impaired in a bid to paint a clearer picture on the true data and number of persons with disabilities in the country.
Datin Paduka Hajah Adina was speaking at the opening of the ‘Better Hearing, Better Living’ Charity Bazaar organised by Hear Better Services in collaboration with the Special Education Unit, Ministry of Education and the Community Development Department (JAPEM) under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports yesterday.
Datin Paduka Hajah Adina receiving a souvenir from Concepts Computers
The Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports said that in Brunei Darussalam, the number of hearing impaired registered with the Community Development Department and National Hearing Impaired Association stands at 112, with many more registered with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education.
“The inconsistencies with data collection emphasises the need for all agencies to agree on and implement a common definition for Persons with Disabilities including the hearing impaired,” she said.
Explaining on the inconsistence in data, Datin Paduka Hajah Adina said, “Many counties have adopted the International Classification of Functioning (ICF) which has not quite taken off here in Brunei Darussalam as many of our agencies find it rather complicated to implement.”
“It has been acknowledged by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that developing countries may require an alternative definition for disabilities which would be easier to administer,” she said.
“With that, I believe that a less complicated system and one which suits to our capabilities should be introduced. Only then can the National Registrar of Persons with Disabilities be implemented,” she said.
Touching on hearing impairment, the Deputy Minister said while most people with hearing loss are older folks who have lost hearing with age, many are young.
Hearing impairment can impose a heavy social and economic burden on individuals, families, communities and countries. Hearing impairment in children may delay development of language and cognitive skills which may hinder progress in school.
Depending on the cause of hearing loss, she highlighted the treatment of medicine, surgery or through devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants.
Good hearing aids, she said, can help some hearing impaired persons to live independently and lead a fuller life. The ability to hear can remove barriers to their inclusion in society and empower them to participate fully in societal life. This will impact not only the individual but also the family and the community.
However, the Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports also said that there is a need for concerted efforts from all parties to support and empower people with social needs including children with hearing loss.
She said the successful integration of people with special needs will require human understanding and sympathy of the public.
Society at large must reach out to people with special needs, recognise their potential and accept them as fellow members of society.