Persons with Disabilities especially those with hearing impairments are failing to communicate effectively because of lack of sign language interpreters at the nomination center. They are requested to write down in order to know what they are saying which is slowing the process.
This is observed at various nomination centers in Kampala, where there are no sign language interpreters to help attend persons with hearing impairment.
Persons with disabilities (PWDs) are part of Special interest groups (SIGs) that are going through the process of nomination at various electoral commission division/district offices in the country.
Whereas persons with various disability conditions are encountering challenges in the process like inaccessibility to the offices and voter’s information among others, it is more challenging to deaf persons due to lack of interpreters.
At various EC offices where the nominations are happening like Rubaga, Makindye, Kawempe, Kampala central, Nakawa divisions among other places. The reporter observed that there were no sign language interpreters, yet they expected the blind to appear for nominations.
Ezra Ongaria, the returning officer of Rubaga division told this reporter off the record that it is slowing the process since a person has to first write. Adding that they have to bear with the situation because they have no sign language interpreters in place.
A source at Kampala central EC offices on the condition of anonymity says, they are also going through the same challenge. Noting that it takes them an hour to nominate a deaf person and they had already received 3 blind persons so far.
According to the Commissioner, Disability and Elderly-Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development Emilly Ajiambo there are few sign language interpreters in Uganda, and it is hard to have them at division level.
Ajiambo says that even those few who are available are always engaged adding that it is also difficult to hire them either on a daily basis or as permanent employees. She notes that, on a daily basis, it costs between shillings 100,000 and shillings 150,000.
While addressing the media at the media center early this week, the state minister for disability and elderly in the ministry of gender, Labour and social development, Sarah Kanyike says that if a PWD is not catered for, you do not expect them to participate effectively in election processes.
Kanyike notes that “most of these things especially the deaf is to do with sign language interpreters, once you deny them interpreters, then they will not be able to participate in each and every activity. This is the mandate of the ministry and this is what we have to advocate for.
In an interview with Joseph Mbulamwana Executive Director of Uganda national association of the deaf (UNAD) who is also a person hearing impairment, he asserts that lack of sign language interpreters in government programs has affected them most.
Uganda will be commemorating the international deaf awareness week this Friday in Masaka, which Mbulamwana says, the goal will be to create awareness about deafness and deaf persons with the aim of promoting inclusion of deaf persons in their communities hence providing access to services offered there.
“We also expect this to increase solidarity among deaf persons and stimulate efforts to promote their human rights,” he notes.
According to the last national population census of 2014, 12.4% is the percentage of the population of Ugandans that live with disabilities and 3.1 percent is Persons with hearing impairment/deaf.