Warning: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /usr/www/users/urnnet/a/story.php on line 43
Disability Rights Activists Decry Deprivation of the Deaf in Sign Language Development :: Uganda Radionetwork
Breaking

Disability Rights Activists Decry Deprivation of the Deaf in Sign Language Development

Robert Nkwangu, the UNAD’s Executive Director says Uganda Sign Language is a natural language developed by deaf people and is structurally distinct from spoken languages but equal in status. He notes that while sign language originated, developed, and evolved from the deaf people themselves, the deaf people are being treated as “spares” in sign language services.
20 Sep 2023 15:05

Audio 2

The Uganda National Association of the Deaf – UNAD has called for vigilance against imposters masquerading as sign language interpreters, which deliberately deprive deaf people of prospects to defend their language. Robert Nkwangu, the UNAD’s Executive Director says Sign Language is a natural language developed by deaf people and is structurally distinct from spoken languages but equal in status.

He notes that while sign language originated, developed, and evolved from the deaf people themselves, the deaf people are being treated as “spares” in sign language services. Nkwangu’s scrutiny comes at a time when Uganda’s deaf community is commemorating the International Deaf Awareness Week spanning between the 18th – and 24th of September 2023 to celebrate the five-decade-long achievements in promoting linguistic identity and cultural diversity of the deaf people.

This year's theme is “Celebrating 50 years of the struggle for deaf people’s human rights: A Uganda where deaf people everywhere can sign anywhere.” The theme aligns with the global advocacy efforts to raise awareness about the linguistic needs of the deaf community at all levels. “We reiterate that not every person who uses signs automatically qualifies to teach Uganda Sign Language or work as a sign language interpreter. Sign Language Instructors/Teachers undergo professional development training including pedagogical skills, curriculum, and content delivery,” Nkwangu told URN in an interview.

He stressed that while the Government has created an enabling environment through various policies and legislations, the deaf community through their representative Association has been left out in some design and implementation of programs that affect them. “These programs are mainly driven by people who put the deaf persons at the bottom as passive recipients which continues to render them impoverished, vulnerable, powerless and isolated.” 

Grace Hellen Asamo, the Eastern Region Member of Parliament for Persons With Disabilities – PWDs, and State Minister for Disability Affairs under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development also agreed that increasing quack language interpreters is a menace to the deaf community. To address the problem, Asamo pointed out that the Government is enforcing the training and certification of professional sign language interpreters through Kyambogo University. Between 2010 and 2022, the University has trained and graduated a total of 165 sign language interpreters (108 females and 57 males).

//Cue in: "We have come a long way…   

Cue out… sign language interpreters.’’//  

The Minister emphasized the Government is finalizing the merger program to pave the way for certified Sign Language Interpreters to be employed in all Ministries, Departments, and Agencies– MDAs to bridge the gap of sign language barrier for effective communication and improve service delivery to the deaf people.

//Cue in; “My Ministry is glad to…    

Cue out… for the deaf people.’’//  

The Uganda National Association of the Deaf and its membership strongly recommends an expedited development and enactment of an Uganda Sign Language Bill to provide for sign language and to protect and promote the linguistic identity and cultural diversity of the deaf people.

Further, the Association recommends the Government and partners closely consult relevant bodies in the development of basic minimum standards for Sign Language Instruction and Uganda Sign Language Training to promote inclusive participation of PWDs in all aspects of life. According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics - UBOS Report 2014, there are 1,083,600 deaf people, representing 3 percent of the total national population.

Milestones So Far Achieved for Uganda's Deaf Community The government has enforced Article 12 Part 5 of the Persons With Disability Act, 2020, and the Communication Act, 2013 to provide for sign language interpreters and access to television programs to promote dignity and equal opportunities to all deaf persons.

Under the National Special Grant – NSG which was rolled out during the Financial Year 2019/2020 to promote the welfare of PWDs through livelihoods and income generation, a total of 242 deaf persons have benefited with 119 being male and 123 being female counterparts.

Over the years, the government has established the National Council for Disability – NCD through which it advocated for the attainment of electoral laws that provided for the representatives of the PWDs in Parliament as enshrined in Article 59 (4) of the Constitution.

Since 2009, data from the Ministry of Education and Sports indicate that 14,734 deaf learners (7,398 males and 7,336 females) have been enrolled in government-aided model primary and secondary schools for the deaf such as Ntinda, Mable, Wakiso, Gulu, Butambala, and Ngora Districts among others, leading to increased admission of the deaf joining the University and other Tertiary Institutions of Learning through affirmative action.

The Ministry of Education and Sports has also put in place vocational rehabilitation centers to train youth with disabilities in employable skills including activities of daily living. So far 32 deaf learners have been trained and awarded certificates by the Directorate of Industrial Training - DIT since 2020.

Support us


Keywords

Entities