When you tell me that Uganda aims to achieve inclusivity for all and end discrimination then I fail to understand the real definition of inclusivity stated above.
The reality is that most disabled people in the country are not taken into consideration in a number of aspects especially when it comes to transport, accessibility and communication. For example there are a number of buildings that are constructed without ramps for those with wheelchairs and video content usually produced by organisations doesn’t have subtitles or a sign language interpreter. What is worse is that schools, hospitals and most buildings have been built with little consideration of the fact that we have disabled people.
A person with a disability is one who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. Did you know that 12.4% of the Ugandan population lives with some form of disability?
It is clear enough that deaf people can’t hear and in most cases are not able to talk. They mostly communicate through sign language although this is becoming more of a big problem in our country’s status quo.
You are probably wondering, how this is possible. Well here is a short story on an experience I had. One day after my daily activities, I decided to take my clothes for a fix at the tailor around my neighborhood in Seeta. Etiquette demands that I have to greet the tailor before setting my order and that’s exactly what I did. Without further ado, she started working on it and my talkative nature probed me to engage her in a little convo as I waited.
After over 2 minutes of talking, I noticed that I didn’t get any response from her but this didn’t stop me from continuing the conversation. Eventually I decided to ask why she was unresponsive to which she brought in the neighboring shopkeeper who explained that she was deaf. Imagine the surprise and embarrassment that bombarded me. Worst of it all, I didn’t know sign language. So how was I supposed to communicate to her and make things right between us?
With that experience in mind, imagine what other deaf people face on a daily basis. This means that we need to find ways of ensuring that all groups of disabled people are included in our daily lives. For those with hearing and speaking impairments, it could be important to advocate for compulsory sign language classes as the lower levels of education.
If you keep shunning sign language, one day you might face the same incident as I did and you will notice then how important it is to get some of these skills. My dear people, take into consideration that God gifted you with all your senses and somewhere out there 1 out of 5 people is deaf and is failing to communicate or move from one place to another. So let’s work together to support the deaf because we need each other for our social and economic way of life.
Until next time, I remain Jerome Okello.