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Ugandans urged to promote the inclusion of Deaf Persons as International Deaf awareness week kicks off

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Ugandans urged to promote the inclusion of Deaf Persons as International Deaf awareness week kicks off

Uganda has joined the rest of the world to launch the International Deaf Awareness Week. This week-long commemoration happens every year in the third week of September with an aim of creating awareness in the communities on the rights and needs of deaf persons.  

The week is also aimed at increasing unity among the deaf community and their families, to raise awareness and fight stigma and discrimination against the deaf persons within their communities and the entire society. 

Hon. Asamo Hellen the Minister of Gender, Labour and social development (Disability Affairs) told the media in Kampala on Tuesday, that as we observe this day, it is important to note that deaf persons play an important role in the development of Uganda and should be accorded the necessary support to enable them to participate in the development process on an equal basis with all other Ugandans.

The theme for this year’s celebrations is Celebrating Thriving Deaf Communities: We Sign for Human Rights”. This theme highlights the fact that are some deaf persons who have beaten all the odds to become successful in life.

No secret that there are some Ugandan deaf persons who have successfully studied, gotten employed in government and private companies as well as becoming self-employed, thus becoming thriving as individuals and as a community” the Minister said. 

She added that the theme underscores the importance of accessing and using sign language in communication for deaf persons as their right. It also emphasizes the need for access to information by deaf persons through the use of sign language.

This, therefore, means that there is a need to promote sign language through awareness-raising, promotion of inclusive education, and provision of employment to Sign Language Interpreters in both Public and Private Organizations, including places of worship. 

According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the percentage of persons with hearing impairment is 3.1% of the total percentage of persons with disabilities which is12.4%. This is a big percentage of our population that cannot be ignored” Hon Asamo said.

Last year, several activists with hearing impairment demanded a change in the education sector, and for examiners who are well acquainted with their language, to mark UNEB Examinations.

Now, the minister says that she is aware that there are still challenges especially in the education sector, but that the Ministry of Education and Sports is implementing a twin-track approach for inclusive education that is promoting inclusive schools as well as special schools for learners that cannot be integrated into the inclusive schools.

“The Ministry of Education and Sports has plans of setting up special secondary schools for the deaf in each region in a phased manner and already in the eastern we have Mbale School for the deaf, in central we have Wakiso School for the deaf, in the north, we have Nancy School for the Deaf which was originally privately owned and the government has now taken over its management. We however recognize that the number of special schools for the deaf is still inadequate given the number of learners that require the services. The Ministry is working closely with the Ministry of Education and Sports to ensure that the Special Needs Education Policy is approved to provide a framework for special needs education” she revealed.    

The Minister implored all Ugandans to mark the Deaf Awareness Week through acts that promote the inclusion of Deaf Persons and that this should be continued even after this week.

There shall be a series of events with the climax happening in Arua on Friday. Some of the activities include training on access to the National Special Grant for Persons with Disabilities, radio and TV talk shows, among others. 

The celebrations in Arua will be scientific but Ugandans can join in virtually.

Sarah Biryomumaisho is a multitalented freelance journalist with 10 years of experience in broadcast and publishing. She has worked with several radio stations and online publications. Twitter; https://twitter.com/BiryomumaishoB

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