Gambian Association of the Deaf & Hard of Hearing

Throughout the world Deaf people form a cultural minority group within the society of each country. Deaf people belong to a linguistic minority. The language of the Deaf community is sign language. In The Gambia Deaf people use Gambian Sign Language.


The Association has planned and undertaken a range of activities in order to seek to implement its strategic objectives. These have been focused in the following areas:


    The empowerment of deaf adults through adult education in sign language, literacy, English, health, HIV/Aids awareness, practical skills, citizenship and other useful topics.

    Deaf awareness activities for the wider public, along with awareness training and sensitization for groups and organizations. We use every means open to us to carry out awareness raising activities and to educate the public in order to develop more positive and accommodating attitudes in which diversity is respected and valued.

    The development and codification of Gambian Sign Language. GSL is a language in its own right with a unique grammar. It is being developed by GADHOH using the experience of native sign language users from The Gambia. This is to ensure that GSL is of a nationally recognized standard in order to guarantee quality and equality.

    Work to establish GSL as one of the languages of The Gambia. Giving us, the deaf people within the nation, a medium of communication that has formerly been denied to them. This should offer deaf people new opportunities for access to education, information services, family life and employment. Above all it will help us to understand what is right and what is wrong, what is true and what is false, and empower us to fight for our own rights.

    The continuing development of an employment service to help deaf people obtain jobs and to establish job creation schemes. To support employers and co-workers of deaf people.

    The training of deaf people to be teachers of sign language and literacy

    The training of Sign Language Interpreters and the establishment of an interpreter service

    Providing support for families of deaf people and training opportunities for parents of deaf children, particularly in respect of developing skills in sign language. This enables them to have a better and more natural communication with their children. Similar programmes are offered to employers and co-workers in work places with deaf people.

    Providing educational and skills training for young deaf women.

    Providing nursery education for pre-school deaf children.

    The active participation of the deaf community in the Association, so that it is a strong and democratic organization.

    The development of branches across the country. Branches exist at Brikama and Soma, as well as the Greater Banjul area. In the future GADHOH would like to set up branches in Farafenni, Barra, Bwiam, Basse Sant Su and Jangjangburreh.

    Outreach and counselling for deaf people and their families.

    Organisational development, capacity and competency building within GADHOH. This, in order to improve the work we do with and on behalf of other deaf people. Cooperation, collaboration with Government agencies, other NGOs and other appropriate partners to work for a speedy progress in meeting our goals.


In order carry out its work for deaf people GADHOH has worked in partnership with other organizations. Only recently it successfully bid for an HIV/Aids education grant from the National Aids Secretariat. This enabled a three-month programme of HIV/Aids awareness and education to be provided for deaf people in GADHOH’s classes and groups.


From 2000 - 2005 GADHOH has worked with a British development NGO, Education for Development. This collaboration has enabled:

    The development of GSL

    The training of deaf people to become teachers of sign language and literacy; the training of sign language interpreters;

    The establishment of an employment service for deaf people and support for their employers and co-workers

    New job opportunities for deaf people and specialist support workers for deaf people

    The recruitment of two VSO deaf volunteers from the UK to work with GADHOH

    Capacity building for GADHOH managers, staff and volunteers


All of the above have helped GADHOH to do more for the rights of its members and equipped the organization with some of the tools it needs to carry out its objectives. The development of GSL communication and its effects are noted in the July – December Report by the external evaluator for the GADHOH/EDDev project Mr K. S. He notes the following:


Sign language development efforts have so far registered profound impact on the lives of the deaf in GADHOH’s areas of operation.  The HIV/AIDS education project was highly successful to the surprise of everybody due to the use of sign language.  More and more deaf people are sending text messages using cell phones and the demand on interpreter services is growing by the day.  Generally, training on skills development, literacy and access to information are becoming more feasible.  Intimate relationships between male and female students/members, which often lead to marriages, are facilitated by the use of sign language.  ….  Self-confidence and desire for independence is stirred in most members.  This is sometimes misinterpreted by some families as disobedience and lack of respect.  All the above examples are facilitated by the use of sign language.


Deaf club times are joyous moments for deaf members especially the youths.  Members feel more at home during these times.  News and other types of information are shared amongst friends and peers making them aware of things happening around them. 


Deaf club activities are however, not the only opportunity for members to meet.  Birthday celebrations are common especially among girls.  Such parties are always attended by a large number of deaf people.  Three marriages between deaf couples took place and each was attended by a large number of members.  Many members could be seen demonstrating their social skills and deaf awareness knowledge to the surprise of hearing on lookers.  Members also form small groups and subscribe money to enjoy themselves mostly in friends’ homes.


Interested in becoming a member? Click on this link for a membership application form.