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Support empowerment of the deaf – Gender Minister

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The Minister of State for Gender, Labour and Social Development (Disability Affairs), Hon. Hellen Asamo, has called on MPs to support the education and sports ministry to staff schools with sign language interpreters.

“As we count on your deliberate affirmative actions during legislation and appropriation, my ministry has worked hard to ensure equitable distribution of the National Special Grant for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs).

She was presenting a statement on the International Deaf Awareness Week during plenary sitting chaired by the Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa on Thursday, 15 September 2022.

This year’s event will run from 19 to 23 September 2022 with the main celebration in Iganga Municipality, eastern Uganda on the concluding day.

According to the minister, Uganda has 1,290,000 deaf people, majority of whom are benefiting from the Special Grant for Persons With Disabilities.

She said that support from the MPs will enable deaf children access education in their localities, without moving to the few specialised schools for the deaf.

“Some schools are not covered with the special schools yet inclusive education is still challenged with resourcing, hence excluding most of the deaf children in untargeted regions,” Asamo said.

She said that this year’s theme of the Deaf Awareness Week, “Building inclusive Communities for all: Uganda sign language unites us”, calls for support to professional and trained Uganda sign language interpreters to enable participation of deaf people in society.

“The recognition of sign language as an official language in the Constitution of Uganda is important for the inclusion of the deaf people in Uganda’s Vision 2014 and achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals agenda of leaving no one behind,” she said.

Asamo also urged the lawmakers to support the Ministry of Public Service to have all public institutions staffed with sign language interpreters, for meaningful inclusion of the deaf community at work.

Luweero district Woman MP, Hon. Brenda Nabukenya, welcomed the minister’s request for Parliament’s support, saying that inclusiveness cannot be achieved without schools for the deaf.

Hon. Brenda Nabukenya called for the construction of more schools for the deaf across the country

“A few weeks ago, a motion was moved to construct schools for the deaf in each district. We still have so many districts without schools for the deaf that means accessibility cannot be achieved. While we debate, we should think of constructing schools in each district so that children should not walk long distances to access education,” said Nabukenya, also Shadow Minister for Education.

Hon. Flavia Nabagabe (NUP, Kassanda district) said that to ensure inclusiveness, all health workers need to be trained in sign languages to enable the deaf freely access medical care.

“When the deaf go to health facilities where there are no interpreters, their right to privacy is violated because they cannot be able to go into detail about their conditions,” she said.

Hon. Simon Peter Wokorach (NRM, Aswa County) suggested that government should consider constructing secondary schools as well as institutions of learning for the deaf, and not limit it to only primary schools.

Hon. Godfery Onzima (NRM, Aringa North County) called for a review of the education curriculum to include sign language.

“I witnessed at a Police station where somebody who was deaf came to report an incident but there was nobody who could interpret his complaint so it became very difficult to help this person,” said Onzima.

Hon. Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi (NUP, Butambala County) said that the minister’s report is silent on the ministry’s financial needs.

“The minister should have spoken to the financial needs in actual figures to alleviate this situation and you ask Parliament for action. When you come to the budgeting process, this report should have informed us of your financial needs,” said Muwanga Kivumbi.

Otuke East County MP, Hon. Julius Acon, advised the minister to encourage the deaf people to participate in sports. “These people should not be discriminated against. In the world of sports, I have not met Ugandans represented by the deaf people,” he said.

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