Organisations which advocate for the rights of persons with hearing impairments have demanded for sign language interpreters in all government departments.
The request was made by Action for Disability and Development International and Sigh Health Uganda (SHU) during the International Day for the Hearing Impaired Persons held at Blessed Sacrament School in Masaka last week. The event brought together 12 schools for the deaf in Masaka.
The SHU country director, Mr Joseph Walugembe, said people with hearing impairments countrywide were still facing many challenges, especially in accessing services and enjoying their rights. “This event is to notify the public that the deaf too can learn and even teach skills as well as take part in the various development activities,” Mr Walugembe said. He regretted that some members of the public still regard the deaf as inferior and lacking the potential to participate in the various development efforts of the country.
“When the deaf go to hospitals they normally do not have an interpreter to help them express themselves yet they are prone to infections too. They don’t find sign language interpreters in court or at police stations and often they are wrongly punished,” he said. He appealed to the government and other public institutions such as banks to recruit and train sign language interpreters to serve the deaf in all public offices and departments.
Ms Mary Kabiito, the general secretary for parents of deaf children in Masaka, said the government had not yet provided enough facilities to training institutions for people with hearing impairments. She also claimed that the learning environment was not conducive in the few schools due to inadequate facilities and instructors.
Ms Scovia Nsamba, the president of parents with deaf children, expressed concern about some parents who deny their children rights to education by not taking them to school or even making any effort to have them gain vocational skills such as carpentry or bricklaying.