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Empowering Disabled Populations and their Families on Corn Island, Nicaragua

Published 04/01/2015 by Global Communities


Empowering Disabled Populations and their Families on Corn Island, Nicaragua
In order to empower the deaf population on Corn Island, Global Communities supported a project to teach them sign language to improve their ability to communicate and help bring them out of isolation. Under the USAID Local Governance Program, Global Communities worked with the Federation of Persons with Disabilities (FECONORI) to support the first intensive sign language workshop in the country. The workshop lasted 15 days in which 21 of the 27 deaf residents and family members from Corn Island participated. The island has about 200 people with at least 10 types of disabilities according to an assessment by FECONORI. The vast majority of the deaf only understood homemade signs which kept them isolated from the rest of society and unable to exercise their civil rights. For most participants it was the first time they received training in sign language, which had a significant impact in their ability to communicate. Participants also said that the training helped to improve their self-esteem and strengthened the bonds of trust with their peers. Being able to effectively communicate with others is the first step in helping these residents become civically engaged, and to learn how to defend their rights.
These efforts are part of a larger initiative being implemented under the Local Governance Program to help build the capacity of local organizations that support and advocate on behalf of persons with disabilities. The PODER (POWER) project aims to strengthen these organizations in the South Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS) communities, with a special focus on indigenous and Afro-descendants, to increase their capacity for citizen participation and enable them to more effectively advocate on behalf of their members to achieve equal rights and opportunities for people with disabilities.