Deaf People Beyond 2015: The SDGs 17 Goals; 169 Targets…. Where do Deaf people stand?
As Deaf people globally watch the turn of events with seemingly little curiosity due to limited involvement in the process that was characteristic of wide consultation involving key stakeholders Eroku Simon who has been part of the 3 year long journey takes you through the SDGs, giving an insight of what Deaf people need to stand up for.
Towards the end of September 2015, Global leaders gathered at the UN Headquarters for the Sustainable Development Summit, for yet one more milestone that marked the climax of close to 3 years-long consultation, formulation and adoption process for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) the next Development agenda that will drive the world through for the Next 15 years.
The SDGs will now replace the MDGs that came into force in 2000 and expired this year. With a number of milestone achievements, the MDGs where a very influential part of the Development agenda especially in Africa where it sought to address key pressing global issues priority among them where Heath care, Infant mortality, Education among others. However as the world transformed its self into a global village with new emerging issues such as climate change, Information communications Technologies (ICTs) among others, The Need for Sustainable Development Goals became realistic and worth the challenge.
The 17 SDGs are an incorporation of some key MDGs that need further realistic tackling and improvement and an addition of emerging global issues with a broader view of Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet.
But what is in SDGs that Deaf people need to not only know but also streamline in their activism, programmes and future plans? There are 7 key Goals of all the 17 Goals that have issues about disability streamlined, and this article gives a broader overview about them:
SDG 4: Education:
Sustainable Development Goal No. 4 aims at ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes life-long learning opportunities for all.
As Deaf people, our advocacy messages on the right to Education should be restructured to include gender equality from within. I have for a long time observed the insufficiency of our plans for actions to include the view of gender equality with in Disability and particularly Deaf education. You will find that usually, an advocacy message carries the broad observation that Deaf people need to access quality education but we must answer the question “Is gender equality part of the message?”
Secondly, The issue for access to education should maintain the equality perspective, we must say that “If they, what about us?” we must force forward an effort by the government to provide equal education opportunities to Deaf people to. Currently the key debate is on the budgetary allocation, a debate that has been live for a good 3 years. The government holds the mandate to ensure that there is substantial allocation of funds to facilitate special needs institutions’ needs.
However the main view is to clearly understand that there is a need for affirmative action if the government is to realize the target, Deaf education for example need to be considerably understood in the perspective that if the government and key stakeholders provide for resources, policies and favorable atmosphere for Deaf children, young people and adult to access quality and affordable education, we will be able to realize equal access to the services.
Whereas Deaf persons don’t face significant challenges with the physical facilities, we have to be on the look out to see that these facilities also cater for the multiple disabilities which may include a Deaf person having other disability such as sight impairment, physical disability among others, accessibility in particular is a universal necessity no matter our abilities because we will expect our physically challenged brothers to pay us a visit some day and find the place accessible.
Secondly, though it’s a visibly ignored issue, facilities that are set up to support the education of Deaf people should take into consideration a number of cultural and accessibility needs of Deaf people. Facilities should for example be designed in such a way that ensures that enough lighting is available, I once attended evening classes in y secondary education under deem light and could barely see the interpreter!
SDG 8: Economic Growth and Productive Employment:
The goal promotes sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
What will we understand when we talk about productive employment. I learnt once in a while that it’s always important that we reflect on the value of our work, do we deserve to be paid that wage in relation to the work you do? We must demand for productive employment where the employer and the employee who in most cases are Deaf people find the relationship fair and balanced. We have to note that Deaf people are key victims in illicit employment in Uganda where people employ them with the aim of exploiting them by paying them peanuts in return to exploitative labor.
Its time for Deaf people to understand what decent employment is. Its time to learn about the various legal provisions contained in our policies, constitutions and particularly the PWDs act of 2006 that is under amendment.
Its also easy to understand that the government is the number one employer in this country but we have to ask ourselves, how many of the roughly estimated 700,000 Deaf people in the job market (an estimated 100,000 with the necessary qualification) are employed by the government? Whereas the government will put up legislations to promote deaf people’s rights to access decent employment, it has not been realistic to lead by example!
So, I believe that in this era of the SDGs, the core should be to ensure that government lives up to its mandate not just as a legal enforcer but also as a leader by example.
Goal 10: Equality
The goal aims at reducing inequality within and among countries
Social Economic and Political Exclusion of Deaf people is very rampant and the most pressing issues that is cross cutting in all spheres of life. However there is a hope that this time round with a clear target that the government has committed itself on, pushing forward for inclusion is realizable.
Deaf people as a linguistic minority comes first to the mind, this is one core reason as to why Deaf people are often Excluded. However with Uganda Sign language as a recognized language, its time to push forward for the government to adopt it in various sectors especially in the education sector. We need to ensure that sign language is taught in Health institutions, ensure that it is mainstreamed in more higher education institutions, teachers’ colleges should start having a Sign language as part of the special needs education curricular and further more, key institutions that provide social economic services should have a way of ensuring that Deaf people are able to access the services through employment of sign language interpreters.
A mere company in the private sector such as a bank branch can sponsor one of its staff to go for a sign language course that is literally not expensive and obviously not heard to do and that’s just enough to see that deaf people access the services necessary for their economic and social emancipation – simple as that!
Goal 11: Inclusive Cities and Human Settlements
The goal aims at Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Two targets emerge from this goal and are very crucial to the Deaf persons if they are to become part and parcel of the developing world.
For a number of times now, my record on getting in a wrong taxi when leaving the city Centre is unbeatable! Very unbeatable! The problem is actually common in Uganda, you hear even Deaf adults getting lost something you may laugh off but its real!
We need accessible transport system and the key issues here is signage! What is difficult about that? KCCA for example has failed in this one area, you build roads and you forget putting up signposts? There are not even specifically designated parking areas for Motorists with Disabilities! Something we have surely failed to decipher!
Time is now! Either we live to see safe affordable and accessible transport systems or become vulnerable to further discrimination and exclusion! I guess that next time I find myself in a wrong taxi, only thing to do is sue the government for neglect! I have the right to information. Even as a Deaf driver, you will find that a traffic police is blowing out a whistle when controlling traffic yet traffic lights are the simple solution so when u get in the wrong, these irresponsible police officers will fine you for their own neglect!
More effort needs to be put in ensuring that public spaces such as parks, public buildings, and other public facilities that mainly serve the purpose of leisure and recreation including sports activities are accessible to deaf persons.
We need to ensure that more clear information about public spaces is available in accessible formats for Deaf persons. Deaf children ought to maintain their right to access recreational facilities and should not be discriminated at, many times they are excluded from mainstream sports activities with organizers claiming that the facilities are not disability- sensitive. Why?? Its not Deaf children’s mistake its their (organizers) own mistake! Either they ensure the facilities are universally accessible to they close them down from being accessed by the public since they claim they are not meeting the standards.
Goal 17: Global Partnerships for Sustainable Development:
This goal looks at the need to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development the Systemic issues here is Data, monitoring and accountability! And its one key targets is set to be realized over the next 5 years in the run up to 2030
As one of the key pressing issues in Uganda and Africa as a whole, lack of reliable data and statistic is a back biting problem that needs immediate tackling. With the target timing coming as early 2020, this is something we should give immediate focus.
Data collection should now become the core of what we do, knowing the number of deaf people in our communities is very important because it enables us to plan. I believe that if we work with the government and various stake holders and put more grassroots effort in data collection, we will be in good position to realize the best out of this target.
And the last part - Follow-up and Review!
These mechanisms will be rigorous and based on evidence, informed by data which is timely, reliable and disaggregated by characteristics relevant in national contexts including income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability and geographic location, for which capacity building support to developing countries will be