The first year of our project in Uganda has come to an end, and what a year it has been. Although some activities were able to go ahead safely and within government guidelines, school closures, movement restrictions and social distancing measures meant most plans needed to be adapted. Instead, Signhealth Uganda turned their attention to supporting deaf children and young people during the pandemic.
One of the biggest challenges from the pandemic was inaccessible Covid-19 information. Most announcements were shared on the radio, and TV announcements lacked sign language interpreters. This caused a lot of confusion, especially when it came to lockdown rules.
As they could no longer venture out into communities themselves, Signhealth Uganda encouraged local teachers to pass on Covid-19 information to their pupils in lockdown. They shared information via phone calls to families and on social media, where they also asked deaf young people to create and share their own informative clips.
Another challenge identified by Signhealth Uganda was the reduction or loss of income for many families. Signhealth Uganda brought together their network of parents of deaf children, their Parent Support Groups, to source and distribute food as well as offer financial support to one another. The parents were also trained in soap making, giving them a source of income and an item for reducing the spread of the virus.
The project also worked in several refugee areas, where Singhealth Uganda worked closely with partner organisations to make sure the response to Covid-19 was inclusive.
Despite a challenging year, Signhealth Uganda have supported 576 deaf children and young people. They have given disability awareness training to almost 600 teachers, family members, community members and community leaders; delivered sign language training to 50 police and health workers; and held meetings within 64 schools. Throughout the year, Signhealth Uganda have remained committed to meeting the needs of deaf children and young people and we are very proud to work with them.