Empowering Deaf Children in Uganda

Improved knowledge and awareness of health, HIV, education, rights and choices for deaf people in Uganda

Thanks to Signal and UK Aid Direct, children in poor communities across Uganda benefit from having access to teachers who have received inclusive education training.

Joan in her classroom

Joan, a 12-year-old girl from a poor family in Lukaya township in the Kalungu District, was struggling in class due to a gradual loss of hearing and pain in both ears. After a teacher at the school volunteered and was selected for Signal’s training on inclusive education, Joan was identified alongside 20 children with hearing problems. Joan’s poor living conditions at home were contributing to her hearing impairment. But thanks to Signal, Joan was supported to manage her condition, and encouraged to discuss the prejudice and bullying she was receiving as a consequence. Joan was later selected to participate in a SignHealth review and interactive event with deaf and hearing- impaired children from other project schools. From the communication tips she picked up from the other pupils, she was able to instill in her peers, good behaviour and an understanding to appreciate and encourage other children with hearing impairment to attend and learn at school.

An interactive event at school, led by Joan

Joan’s story in detail

In certain parts of the world, attitudes towards children and adults with disabilities can still be a barrier to them accessing services and to personal and economic development.

Joan is a 12-year-old girl living in Lukaya township in the Kalungu District. Her father abandoned the family when she was young, and her mother struggles to bring up Joan and her 3 siblings, on a low, tenant farmer’s income. Like many local families, Joan’s family lives in poor conditions -the whole family sleep on the floor of a small rented room which lacks adequate space. This space is also shared with the few chickens they rear, to help with living costs and provide some food security.

Joan attends Kapere Primary School — an active project school selected by the Ministry of Education at the end of 2015, for training on inclusive education. Following an initial introductory awareness event at school, a focal teacher volunteered and was selected for training on inclusive education. Alongside another teacher and the school administration, the school identified over 20 children with hearing problems and Joan was one of them:

Her performance had gone downhill and we were wondering how such a bright girl had deteriorated, so rapidly. This programme opened our eyes to the possibility that this might be connected to the itching Joan was complaining of all the time. — focal teacher

Joan’s poor living conditions were to blame for her ear problems and it was discovered that she had been feeling pain in both of her ears for over 3 years. In a follow up awareness session for teachers and pupils, Joan and her peers discussed their issues. This included how failing to hear in class had led to corporal punishment, abusive language, as well as discrimination and bullying from other children. Teachers committed to address these issues and Joan’s performance in school gradually recovered. Joan said:

The teachers now understand me, and I have also learned to care for my ears.

Joan was later selected to participate in a SignHealth Review and interactive event with deaf and hearing impaired children from other project schools. Joan shared her deliberations with the teachers and other partners. She picked up many communication tips from her interaction with deaf pupils who participated in a SignHealth forum for children and passed these on to her peers at school. One of her peers said:

Joan is so helpful to us, she teaches us some signs like how to say our sign names, good morning, good afternoon and good evening, and we are all improving.

Her teacher Sam Wagwa, says that Joan is instilling in other children at the school, an understanding to appreciate and encourage other children with hearing impairments to attend and learn at school. At school Joan loves English and is aiming to become a teacher.

Global Disability Summit 2018

We are committed to ensuring the Global Goals Leave No One Behind. This includes people with disabilities. We have a plan. In 2018 the Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt, will bring together global leaders and technology companies to tackle the barriers that prevent people living with disabilities from reaching their full potential. The Global Disability Summit will be co-hosted with the International Disability Alliance (IDA).

For too long many people living with disabilities in the world’s poorest countries have not been able to fulfil their potential due to stigma or a lack of practical support. They are, for example, missing out on school and the chance to work. — Penny Mordaunt

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