By Ben Musanje
20th Sept 2023
The Uganda National Association of the Deaf – UNAD has called for vigilance against imposters masquerading as sign language interpreters, which deliberately deprive deaf people of prospects to defend their language.
Robert Nkwangu, the UNAD’s Executive Director says Sign Language is a natural language developed by deaf people and is structurally distinct from spoken languages but equal in status.
He notes that while sign language originated, developed, and evolved from the deaf people themselves, the deaf people are being treated as “spares” in sign language services.
Nkwangu’s scrutiny comes at a time when Uganda’s deaf community is commemorating the International Deaf Awareness Week spanning between September 18th and 24th, 2023 to celebrate the five-decade-long achievements in promoting linguistic identity and cultural diversity of the deaf people.
This year’s theme is “Celebrating 50 years of the struggle for deaf people’s human rights: A Uganda where deaf people everywhere can sign anywhere.”
The theme aligns with the global advocacy efforts to raise awareness about the linguistic needs of the deaf community at all levels.
Grace Hellen Asamo, the Eastern Region Member of Parliament for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), and State Minister for Disability Affairs under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development also agreed that increasing quack language interpreters is a menace to the deaf community.
And that Government is enforcing the training and certification of professional sign language interpreters through Kyambogo University.
Between 2010 and 2022, the University has trained and graduated a total of 165 sign language interpreters (108 females and 57 males).