Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation Sued Over Inaccessible Information On COVID-19
23 April 2020
Three organisations that represent people who are deaf and visually impaired have sued the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) demanding to be provided with accurate information and updates on the coronavirus pandemic in a format which is accessible to them.
The Zimbabwe National League Of The Blind and Deaf Zimbabwe Trust argued that the rights of people with disabilities had been infringed by the government and ZBC during the coronavirus health crisis as there is a lack of access to information in a format that can be accessed by persons with disabilities, notably deaf people and the blind and partially sighted.
ZBC, the Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, the Health and Child Care Minister Obadiah Moyo as well as the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Paul Mavima have been named as respondents to the application by the Zimbabwe National League of the Blind, the Centre for Disability and Development and Deaf Zimbabwe Trust.
As applicants, the three organisations argued that given the state of the public health crisis and the national lockdown, there is a need for ZBC to have sign language as part of its programming to allow the deaf and hard of hearing citizens to be fully informed about COVID-19 and continuous changes effected in compliance with the national lockdown and subsequent measures taken by the government.
The Zimbabwe National League of the Blind also argued that there is a need for all official communications by government ministries about coronavirus to be produced in formats which are accessible to persons who are blind and partially sighted persons, through the use of Braille pamphlets, audio versions and digital readable-text versions of all official communications.
The applicants said that failure to provide the information on coronavirus in formats that are accessible to persons with disabilities poses a grave danger to those people who may unknowingly expose themselves to the deadly disease as well as to the general public who might also be infected with the virus by the uninformed persons with disabilities if they do not get equal access to information around preventing the spread of COVID-19.
The application will be heard today, 20 April 2020 by the High Court Judge Justice Joseph Mafusire.