photo: Hand signals to help determine pain levels. Copyright Nadia Bettega.

Support for Hearing Impaired Children in Northern Uganda

Signal is a UK-based charity which aims to end the isolation and discrimination faced by many deaf children and adults in the UK and Africa, building communication skills, raising awareness and changing behaviour and lives. The charity works to enable greater access to education, learning and information and to improve access to health and wellbeing services for all.

Since 2016, True Colours has been supporting the work of one of Signal’s partners, SignHealth Uganda. The project was developed to address some of the many challenges faced by hearing-impaired children and their families in Northern Uganda. These challenges include limited community understanding about the nature of deafness, a lack of training for teachers on how to support hearing-impaired children in class, and limited resources meaning that parents can’t afford to send their deaf children to school, prioritising their other children. Many deaf children find themselves isolated, with no language skills and no way to support themselves as adults.

SignHealth Uganda runs deaf awareness training for health professionals, parents and teachers. It has developed programmes for deaf children to learn to support themselves better, and delivers income generation training to parent groups. They work to raise awareness of hearing-impairment in order to fight the stigma which often accompanies disability and sign language lessons have been provided to children, teachers and parents, in some cases allowing a child to have their first conversation.

Today the project works in all nine districts in the West Nile region and has so far reached 42 communities and 48 schools, changing the lives of over 4,000 children, including 1,200 who accessed school for the first time.

True Colours continues to support the programme which is now focussing on strengthening and embedding previous work and expanding into new areas.

More information about Signal can be found here.