Uganda has earned honours and is being utilized as a learning destination for countries in Africa.
For purposes of this submission, let me talk about the Deaf population. We have seen it all, (to the hearingwe have heard it all) is a common phrase amongst the Deaf community in Uganda when one talks about barriers in communication- when u need to go for inclusive education systems or university on private sponsorship, seek medical services and by this I mean both private and state owned hospitals and you can’t afford SL interpreter fees.
When you need to participate and contribute at meetings and other gatherings that include poverty alleviation programmes where groups are required to access the funds. For the ladies actually the story is longer…during pregnancy many have been at risk of losing or have lost their babies (RIP) because a there is no sign language interpreter yet the midwife or nurse can not understand SL.
If we are to go by the gestures of key Ministries in this walk-the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development and the Ministry of Public Service, there seem to be positive steps gradually being taken to respect the right to access services of sign language interpreters by Deaf persons.
Guidelines have been developed, they have been shared with the relevant bodies and discussion is underway to agree on how to operationalise as per the provisions of the Policy on Disability where issues of SL fall.
According to the draft guidelines developed by Uganda National Association of Sign Language Interpreters (UNASLI) a copy of which has been shared by UNAD NEWS, the plan is to set up an interpreter agency with acall- in centre based in Kampala with regional offices in Northern, Eastern, and Western Uganda.
Deaf persons and service providers who need the services of an interpreter will make appointment by SMS, telephone call or E-mail specifying the activity, duration, venue etc. The Administrator at the respective centre will then send an interpreter as per request.
The Deaf recipient will be required to sign a form to acknowledge provision of services. The government is then expected to pay the interpreters monthly salary through the agency. This approach is working well in countries like South Africa, Finland Etc.
Will this be the solution to the untold suffering of Deaf persons in Uganda because they cannot communicate with service providers? Our eyes are on our Government through our mother Ministry (Gender) - we are anxiously waiting for A NEW DAWN.