The Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development (MGLSD) under its department of disability affairs agrees with other stakeholders’ demand to recognize sign language as an official language in the constitution of Uganda.
According to Hellen Grace Asamo, the State Minister for Disability Affairs, this is important for the inclusion of deaf people in implementing Uganda’s Vision 2040 and the achievement of the 2030 SDG Agenda of leaving no one behind.
The Minister said this while launching the preparations for International Deaf Awareness Week at Uganda Media Center Thursday morning.
The Week is slated to take place from 19th to 23rd September 2022 under the theme “Building Inclusive Communities for All: Uganda Sign Language Unites Us.”
The Minister said sign language is the critical prerequisite to reaching the full participation of deaf people in their communities and ensure the realization of their human rights.
“It calls upon relevant stakeholders to provide support and disseminate information on early acquisition to Uganda Sign Language and provide inclusive quality bilingual education,” the Minister said.
Asamo added that the theme highlights the efforts government needs to undertake to provide inclusion to the deaf community, especially through sign language to increase their access to government programs and information.
While highlighting last year’s results from the commemoration of the international Deaf Awareness Week, Asamo noted that the Ministry of Education and Sports embarked on the process of translating learning materials into Uganda Sign Language.
This was made possible with support from UNICEF.
“Ministry of Education and Sports needs to prioritize translation of more educational materials for meaningful inclusion of deaf children in schools across the country.
Since the last celebrations in 2021, the government has committed to recruiting sign language interpreters. This commitment was made during the Global Disability Summit,” she added.
Minister Asamo noted that the Week also draws attention to the accomplishments of people who are deaf, raises awareness of their unique needs and also promotes their human rights.
During this week, state and non-state actors will publicize many activities and informational campaigns to educate people about deafness and hearing loss.
Before the event takes place, the Minister highlighted some of the activities which will take place. These will include a cultural gala in Uganda Sign Language (Music Drama and Dance and Comedy), airing issues of concern to deaf people.
A Community Health Camp especially themed around sexual and reproductive health, blood donation and screening will also be conducted. Additionally, there will be radio talk shows on inclusive development.
According to the 2014 Uganda National Housing and Population statistics, there are over 1,083,649 Deaf people in Uganda (UBOS 2014). This has since increased to 1,290,000 of current Uganda’s population.