By Venessa Deosaran
The Deaf Association of Guyana (DAG), formerly known as Deaf in Guyana, embraces their vision that members of the deaf community play a positive and integral role in national development. Speaking with the vice-president, Quincy Richards told Guyana Times Sunday Magazine that DAG’s mission is to help deaf persons achieve their full potential and to improve the socioeconomic well-being of members of the deaf community.
DAG is a non-governmental organisation and was registered under the Friendly Societies Act in 2010. Its present office bearers are: Sabine McIntosh, president; Quincy Richards, vice-president; Dionne McKenzie, secretary; Charmayne Martin, treasurer; Nicola Collymore, assistant secretary-treasurer; and committee members are Shawna Estwick and Jerimiah Williams.
Its activities are financed through multiple sources of funding – these include local fund raising, donor applications and private sector sponsorship. DAG’s network with members of the deaf community stretches across several regions. It works closely with the special needs schools countrywide. DAG is engaged in the following areas: the visual and performing arts, education, sign language research, and sport.
At its recent Annual General Meeting held on March 31, the name change was officially done. According to the management committee, the new name better reflects the scope of the work undertaken by the association over the last two years. The annual report presented at the meeting highlighted some of last year’s activities such as the group’s participation in Mashramani in February; production of a sign language based booklet ‘Growing Up’; the theater production ‘Deaf Got Talent 2011’; the ‘Signing Bee Competition’; and a ‘Dinner and Dance’ among many others.
“Before the year is out, we are looking to have a cricket team trained by experienced coaches. We also hope to have in place a football team ready to compete. In other words, ‘Deaf Sport Guyana’ will be alive and kicking. In order to succeed we need strong support from the corporate community. To be deaf is a challenge. It is a challenge for each deaf person to succeed, to excel, to be acknowledged. It is a challenge for society, not to discriminate, not to marginalize, but to include, interact, to provide a level of playground where the deaf can contribute to society their skills, passion and talents,” said Richards.
Additionally, the association hopes to broadcast a sign language programme very soon on television so that the general public can be involved in the deaf community. Also, this year’s main theater event will be ‘Tales and Legends of Guyana’ to be staged the National Cultural Centre.
The association expects well over 30 deaf performers to be on stage for this production, with dance and drama items developed and performed by members of the deaf community from three different regions. It will be a step-up from last year’s performance ‘Deaf Got Talent 2011’ as the association continuously strives to strengthen its organizational capacity.