Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Director of the African Sign Language Interpreters says Uganda needs to better foster communication with Deaf community

From Barry Olouch, the director of the African Sign Language Interpreters and Translators Agency, for New Vision in Uganda:

The Constitution of Uganda states that the Government will protect and promote the development of sign language as other languages of Uganda. The Constitution is also against the discrimination of Ugandan citizens on the basis of their disabilities.

However, its disappointing to realise that in the on-going campaigns for political positions, candidates have not involved people with hearing impairment. So, whatever they say is never conveyed to the voters with hearing impairment because there are no sign language interpreters at the rallies and meetings.

More so, most of the candidates have ignored people with disabilities and their issues have not been brought up during the campaigns.

The challenge of deaf citizens not accessing information like other hearing persons has also been aggravated by the Uganda Broadcasting Commission that has failed to implement the articles that relate to access to information in the Communication Act where all television media are supposed to provide signography on televisions at least twice a day.

This shows that the laws are useless if there is no political will to implement them. The World Health Organisation estimates that there are 80 million deaf person’s world wide and over 40% of them are found in Africa. According to Uganda Bureau of Statistics and the related national census of 2002; it is estimated that Uganda has over 700,000 deaf adults. Therefore, I appeal to all politicians not to ignore people with hearing impairment because they are also voters.

US President Barrack Obama used sign language interpreters during his entire Campaign rail.

During a recent interview, Alex Ndeezi, the MP representing persons with disabilities for the central region, said Uganda has enough qualified sign language interpreters to serve every district in the country.

The head of the department of special needs education at Kyambogo University recently said the institution has been producing more than 20 graduates with a diploma in sign language every year since 2000.