Language mediation during consultations between deaf patients and health care providers at Chivhu Hospital, Zimbabwe

Main Article Content

Tawanda Matende
Paul Svongoro
Miss Bridget Phiri


This study examines the extent to which the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated language barriers between the Deaf community and healthcare providers. Virtual interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs) with Deaf merchants and other Deaf people living in Chivhu, Zimbabwe, were used to gather data for the study. Observation and document analysis were also utilized to supplement these two approaches of data acquisition. The study used critical theory as its theoretical framework in order to better understand the communication difficulties between Deaf and Healthcare practitioners. According to the study's findings, Covid-19 had a significant impact on how Deaf people and healthcare workers interacted, which helped the Deaf population receive health services. In addition, the lack of qualified Sign Language interpreters to close the communication gap between Deaf patients and healthcare professionals made it more difficult for Deaf people to access healthcare facilities. The study suggests, among other initiatives, that during emergency crisis situations like those brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government of Zimbabwe, the health system, and various stakeholders should provide accessible information and language mediators for the Deaf.

Article Details

How to Cite
Matende, T., Svongoro, P., & Phiri, B. (2024). Language mediation during consultations between deaf patients and health care providers at Chivhu Hospital, Zimbabwe. NAWA Journal of Language and Communication, 17(1), 81–96.
Author Biographies

Tawanda Matende, University of Zimbabwe

Mr Tawanda Matende, is a Canon Collins scholar and a lecturer in the Department of Languages, Literature and Culture at the University of Zimbabwe. He is completing his PhD with the University of Venda in South Africa. His research interests are in the areas of Sign Language, language policy and planning, language and sustainable development, linguistic human rights and translation and interpretation.

Paul Svongoro, University of the Western Cape

Paul Svongoro, is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education of the University of Botswana. He is also a Research Fellow in the Department of African Languages at the University of South Africa. He recently completed his Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. He holds a PhD in Translation and Interpretation from the University of the Witwatersrand and has over 14 years of university teaching experience. He conducts research and publishes in the areas of corpus-based translation studies, court interpretation, the interface between language and the law, academic literacy and professional communication skills.

Miss Bridget Phiri, University of Zimbabwe

Miss Bridget Phiri, is an emerging researcher who holds a MA Degree in Applied Linguistics from the Department of Language, Culture and Communication of the University of Zimbabwe. Her interests are in the areas disability and communication studies, discourse analysis and translation and interpretation.



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