Children with hearing impairments in rural Uganda are typically considered a bad omen and can face discrimination and exclusion from basic services like education. Signal and its partner Signhealth Uganda work to support these children and change local people’s perceptions about deafness.
Juliet is a young girl who lives with a hearing impairment in a village in the Central Region of Uganda.
Economic factors that force children like Juliet and their families to sleep on the floor and function without running water can exacerbate hearing impairment. This is due to the poor personal hygiene that it is hard to avoid under these circumstances.
Juliet cleans up her family home before getting ready for school in the mornings. Signhealth Uganda helps parents to understand the nature of hearing impairment, which is traditionally seen as a curse on the family. Staff help parents to realise that children with hearing impairments are still capable of leading normal and happy lives both at home and at school.
Juliet walks barefoot along a dirt road to her primary school, which is a kilometre or two from her home. Many of her classmates have to walk far greater distances. The lack of shoes can lead to hygiene issues, because families frequently sleep on the same floors on which they walk. This can lead in turn to foreign bodies becoming lodged in the ear and to ear infections.
Signhealth Uganda organises community hearing screenings. Staff detected Juliet’s hearing impairment and helped her to receive some treatment.
Juliet has become more confident and involved in classroom activities
Juliet is now an active participant in her class. Her academic progress has improved and she has become more confident and involved in classroom activities. She answers questions readily and no longer cranes her neck in order to hear through her stronger ear.