Zimbabwe Sexual and Reproductive Health Sign Language Dictionary

The HIV and AIDS Management and Support Organization (THAMASO-ZIMBABWE), in collaboration with the Disability HIV & AIDS Trust (DHAT), realized the existence of a knowledge gap on HIV and AIDS and sexual and reproduction health and rights (SRHR), among the deaf communities of Zimbabwe. The absence of signs for many of the technical terms related to HIV and SRHR has created serious disadvantages for
hearing impaired people and increased their vulnerability to HIV, and made it difficult for them to claim their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Consequently, THAMASO-ZIMBABWE and DHAT decided to produce a Dictionary for people with hearing impairments that includes HIV and SRHR related signs.

The Dictionary includes an illustrated guide to signing and signing for individual letters, along with illustrations and descriptions for common words and for those new HIV/SRHR signs that have been developed, making it an invaluable reference for both those with hearing impairments and those without hearing challenges. The dictionary is suitable for use in educational institutions (schools, colleges and universities) as well as in health institutions such as hospitals, clinics and VCT centres. Counsellors and all staff working directly and indirectly in the HIV and SRHR sectors will find the dictionary most useful.

The production of the dictionary was sponsored by the Open Society for Southern Africa (OSISA) and the Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAFAIDS). In respecting the adage “nothing for us without us” people with hearing impairments, drawn from all the provinces of Zimbabwe, developed this dictionary. We are proud of those who represented the deaf community in producing meaningful and helpful signs that will go a long way in helping those with hearing impairments and the nation at large to communicate on HIV and SRHR in a way that has previously been impossible.

THAMASO-ZIMBABWE and DHAT wish to express their gratitude to OSISA, SAFAIDS, the National AIDS Council, the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Ministry of Education, Sports, Arts and Culture, the National Council for the Hard of Hearing, the Zimbabwe National Association of the Deaf, the Zimbabwe Open University and the University of Zimbabwe, for their contributions.