Tuesday 28th February, 2017: Kampala – Doctors, teachers, nurses, lawyers and other service providers who have always found it hard interacting with Deaf persons should finally smile, Uganda sign language is soon going to be available in digital formats and learners will be able to learn sign language at a tap of a button while on their office computer or at home on their smart-phones.
Uganda National Association of the Deaf (UNAD) an umbrella organization of Deaf persons in Uganda has partnered the Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions (SPIDER) an organisation within the Department of Computer and System Sciences of Stockholm University- Sweden to make Uganda Sign Language learning accessible via digital platforms for Deaf people, their families, social service provides and anyone willing to learn Uganda Sign Language access the tutorials with ease.
Above: Magda Berhe Johnson - Senior Programme Manager - Head of Education and Learning at Spider Shakes hands with Ambrose Murangira - Executive Director UNAD after signing the partnership Agreement at UNAD resource and Training Center.
Uganda Sign Language has been in existence for over 2 Decades now and the constitution of Uganda in its cultural objective XXIV (c) promotes the development of the language to aid Deaf persons in communication.
The two year partnership that commences in March 2017 will see the development of a mobile application, Website and Digital tutorial for learners to access and learn sign language.
Sign Language is very vital for the inclusion of Deaf people in community Development, we need to mainstream sign language in every aspect of community development by letting every willing member of the community learn at least some basics so that they are able to communicate with a Deaf person.
According to the 2014 National Population and Housing Census statistics, there are 1,083,650 Deaf persons in Uganda and despite this alarming statistics, not a lot has been done to support Deaf persons to actively mainstream themselves In their communities due to the challenge posed by the limited knowledge of Sign language. It has led to the marginalization of deaf people, many are denied social services due to the difficulty in communicating that arises when they seek such services.
Eroku Simon, Information officer UNAD in a briefing said "The project will help make sign language learning easy for social workers, Service providers like Doctors, nurses, teachers, among others while also creating partnerships with institutions of learning and the private sector to make it possible for the digital content to reach students in schools, Universities and other tertiary institutions across Uganda."
The project will also build the capacity as well as equip sign language instructors and organizations working with Deaf persons with skills and knowledge on the development and usage of Digital Uganda Sign Language content.
On what benefit the project will be to the Uganda, “The project through its open-source digital learning content is a great contribution to sustainable development,” Ambrose Murangira the UNAD Executive Director stresses “Closing the communication gap between deaf people, their families and the general community has been proven effective in realizing full and equal participation of Deaf persons hence they wouldn’t be left behind”