SHOULD PARENTS OF DEAF CHILDREN BE PAID ALLOWANCES TO LEARN SIGN LANGAUGE?
And if they refused to attend the training because they are not paid; what would you do? I presume the first though t that runs through our minds is the children- How will the children progress in life if they can not find a friendly language even in what ought to be safe Haven away from the already harsh world?
UNAD in partnership with her development partners have identified the core of all the challenges Deaf people face as starting from the home and family life. Measures and programmes are designed to target parents of the Deaf children as primary beneficiaries. The role parents have played in our lives need not be emphasised i.e. Parents are the backbone to the moral upbringing of children and section 34 of the constitution of the Republic of Uganda (1995) further strengthens the importance of their role.
UNAD has mobilized parents of the Deaf children and supported them to form associations to advocate for the Rights of the children. Meetings with parents have been held calling out for acceptance, support and sharing of experiences. They have been encouraged to learn Uganda Sign Language (USL) as a means to fulfilling their parental role. Plans are underway to train Executive Committee members of the Associations to give them basics skills on a simplified version of the Human Rights Based approach to advocacy.
USL training centres have been set up in various districts where UNAD operates. The centres are established as training venues for all interested people in the area, the criteria is for selection of the Centres is however based on the number of Deaf persons in that particular area.
One would expect that with a high number of Deaf persons, automatically the number of Parents and family members attending the trainings would be high too- the reverse is however true, the parents are not attending the trainings and why is that so? The Parents need allowances because they have to put aside their duties to attend.
When we ask for any of the family members to fill the gap, the response is still slow. The timing for the training is on average 03:00pm to 07:00pm (2 to 3 hours per day) and this is meant to target the parents after work.
Should we say the era of moral decadence is a reality? Don’t parents feel communication with the children is a sure way to have responsible and successful adults in the future? Has parental love been replaced by the search for money and more money? Could it be true that the high levels of poverty leave parents with no option but to neglect the needs (read communication needs) of the children? Isn’t blood thicker than water anymore? Is it now a case of an outsider mourning louder than the bereaved? The answers to these questions may vary but one thing we would agree is that there is no penny worth a parent of a Deaf child sacrificing learning USL.
Our plea to the Parents – think positive, USL is an investment to your Deaf child, the dividends are worth more than any shillings you want to be paid to attend free sign language courses. The applause however goes to teachers, police officers and nurses who have taken advantage of the free trainings.
We salute parents who can communicate with their children in USL and are strongly advocating for learning of Sign language, those who are educating their Deaf children and continue to give them the due guidance and support.
To all of you we say THANK YOU and Keep up the spirit.