Signal Charity - Deaf Awareness in Africa

This is Signal’s most diverse overseas programme, working with our partners Signhealth Uganda (SHU) across the fields of health, education and advocacy for deaf awareness and rights at both local and national level.  SHU were established in 2009 to promote equitable access to social services and opportunities for deaf, deafblind persons and their families through advocacy, cost effective and sustainable services. Signal is Signhealth Uganda’s largest international partner.

How we help

Health:  SHU work with individuals and schools to provide greater access to health services including sign language training and emergency interpretation, counselling and referral services.

We provide deaf-friendly HIV/AIDS awareness and support programmes, working in both prevention and healthy living for individuals and families.  SHU closely monitor those identified, and provide back up and support to gain access to drugs and other necessities and provide training to families and individuals.

Education:  Signal’s 3 year Comic Relief-funded programme in Uganda was based on our work in Malawi. Together with SHU we are working to challenge negative attitudes towards deaf and hearing impaired children enabling them to access a quality education on a par with their hearing peers within mainstream primary schools. We take a holistic approach to challenging negative cultural attitudes, working to find and identify children with hearing impairments within their communities.  We work with these children, their siblings and families, respected community leaders and mainstream primary school teachers.  We have encouraged and enabled the creation of parent support groups who, equipped with small start up capital, have successfully introduced income generating activities particularly mushroom growing, soap making and petroleum jelly production as well as small savings and loans.  Some of these groups have now been active for nearly 3 years.

Signal’s education and health rights programme funded by UK Aid is working in two districts – Masaka and Arua. It is promoting deaf and hearing impaired children’s right to education, and it is helping young deaf people understand their rights and protect themselves from HIV, and offers training and awareness on sexual and reproductive health.

We work with young deaf people as peer educators who go out into rural communities to find other deaf people without either access to services or good communications to build self-confidence, language and  better communication skills.  We give these young people accessible information on HIV prevention and treatment and help them – especially young deaf women – understand their rights.  We also work with, and train Village Health Teams to make their services inclusive to those with hearing loss.

Positive change/progress

  • Sign language training for parents of deaf children;
  • Deaf awareness training with health workers and the judiciary to ensure access to services and information is deaf friendly;
  • Specialist training for primary teachers on special needs learners within an inclusive primary school education setting;
  • Establishment of SHU as one of the key organisations working in the field of deafness, disability and child rights and protection;
  • Hearing impaired children who have worked with the project have become real agents of change within their communities;
  • Year on year academic attainment of hearing impaired children at mainstream primary schools.

Our work with SHU is funded by grants from Comic Relief, the UK Department for International Development (DfID) and trusts, as well as individual donations.

Find out how you can get involved