On Tuesday, the Ministry of Culture and Youth asked all TV broadcasters to provide sign language interpretation to viewers with hearing disabilities, particularly during news hours.
The decision was made based on the recommendation of the committee of international advocacy of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Council of Ministers, according to a statement issued by the ministry.
“We inform you [visual media] to use sign language interpretation, particularly during news broadcasts,” according to the statement.
Several organizations had previously lobbied for these services to assist those with hearing impairments.
When sign language was provided during Kurdish news programs in the past, viewers with hearing disabilities could not clearly understand the translation due to the poor linguistic skills of the interpreters, according to a report by the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration.
The report finds that the lack of effective sign language interpreters and minimal training opportunities are the main issues facing all of Iraq.
In fact, according to the international organization, accurate data about the number of people who are deaf or hard of hearing in Iraq is not available.