Uganda has a population of 35 million people, with an estimated 14,000 people with deafblindness – very few of whom receive any help.
People with deafblindness and their families are often amongst the poorest and most excluded members of society. Without support from Sense International, children with deafblindness often lead harsh, isolated lives. Many will die young.
Sense International has been active in Uganda since 2005. There is one school in the country with a specialist unit which acts as a centre of excellence for deafblind education. In addition there is a professional training programme in deafblindness for Special Needs Teachers and Community Based Workers based at Kyambogo University.
“I didn’t know I would ever be able to communicate with my girl. After receiving the skills from Sense International we all started loving her more.”
Mother of Diana
Watch our subtitled video that briefly outlines the work we do in Uganda. You can also watch the video on YouTube.
We work with government and education institutions to improve people with deafblindness / MSI access to appropriate education.
- We have established a ‘model of excellence’ for children wih deafblindness in Uganda; enabling 25 children to attend St Mark VII school for the deaf and deafblind in Bwanda.
- Working in partnership with Kentalis we have supported Kyambogo University to establish a year long professional training program in deafblindness for teachers and community based workers.
- 277 children with deafblindness and approximately 3,000 family members have received home-based support from Sense International and our partners.
- We have trained 42 community workers to provide home-based support.
- We have diagnosed and assessed more than 100 children since 2010 through the establishment of a Multidisciplinary Assessment Teams.
- We have piloted a Community Based Education model that prepares and enables learners with deafblindness to access education in a mainstream school. With this model, up to 421 beneficiaries were supported through regular teacher home visits and each of these learners demonstrated progress against their Individual Development Plans (IDPs).
- Working in partnership with the National Curriculum Development Centre, we have developed accessible teaching and learning resources for teachers and intervenors, including the Community Based Education Curriculum and interveners manual.
- With our support, teachers have been trained and mentored to support the learning of children with deafblindness through the Community Based Education Model. Forty five Special Education Needs (SEN) teachers were trained and 364 mainstream teachers have increased knowledge and skills to support learners with deafblindness.
- With our support 301 parents have been trained and equipped with basic skills to support the learning and development of their children. An average of 92% of parents reported increased confidence in educating their child with deafblindness - thanks to joint work with teachers visiting homes and by accessing video training which is helping parents to train their children for increased independence.
View image of Sense International's work in Uganda's. You can also see the images on the Sense International in Uganda Flickr page.
- We have supported parents to set up the Association of Uganda Parents of Deafblind Children - which offers mutual support, information and advocacy to 343 members in 12 branches across the country.
- Through our advocacy work with the Ministry of Education, provision for the education of children with deafblindness has been included in these draft policies: National Inclusive Education Policy and the Uganda National Examinations Board Policy.
- With our support, the Uganda Parents with Deafblind Children Association has lobbied successfully for allocation of resources for their activities in the districts where they have branches.
- We are campaigning for the government of Uganda to immunise against rubella – which causes thousands of children to be born deafblind when their mothers catch this during pregnancy.
- We will continue to lobby, advocate and campaign until people with deafblindness are recognised, accepted and valued in Uganda.
Previously there were limited screening and early intervention (EI) services for children with sensory and multi-sensory impairments. New-born babies are not screened for visual and hearing impairments, or did they receive essential and appropriate support in the crucial early years of development. We are changing this:
- Early Intervention units in four health facilities have been established with our support and equipped with visual and hearing screening equipment, as well as therapy equipment. Eighty eight healthcare staff have been trained in vision and hearing screening of infants and children aged 0-3 years. Three occupational therapists and one physiotherapist are responsible for the provision of rehabilitative services to the children who need this.
- Working with the Ministry of Health, we have established a state-of-the-art sensory stimulation room at Entebbe Referral Hospital. This facility is open to all children with low vision and or residual hearing who require sensory stimulation to improve their ability to see and hear.
We support awareness raising campaigns, using local media and encouraging families to participate in national events that will increase the profile of deafblindness/MSI in Uganda. In addition through our community based work we provide information to people in rural villages, working with women’s groups, village elders and other groups about deafblindness. In 2016 we ran an awareness campaign around the theme “combating stigma”. We supported talk shows by parents at four radio stations and ran spot messages on two radio stations. We also ran a newspaper article, and developed factsheets about deafblindness which were widely distributed to different stakeholders.
- Transforming and removing barriers to inclusive learning for children with deafblindness in Uganda through influencing inclusive education practices by providing evidence based documentation of a two-Step inclusive learning model.
- Partnering with the Ministry of Health to scale up the screening of children in all public health facilities, as well as lobbying the government to include German measles (which is the main known cause of deafblindness) among the diseases that are routinely immunized against.
- Establishing a rehabilitation centre of excellence which will provide hearing assessments and diagnosis.
- Advocating for the rights and appropriate services for persons with deafblindness/MSI.
Sense International (Uganda)
Plot No. 99 Next to Ntinda Post Office
(Postal address: PO Box 72611, Kampala, Uganda)
Tel/Fax: +256 41 428 7174
First published: Monday 19 August 2013
Last updated: Monday 15 January 2018