Uganda

Uganda has a population of 35 million people and an estimated deafblind/multi-sensory impaired (MSI) population of 14,000 people.

Sense International (Uganda) was established in 2005 and formally registered in the year 2008. It is currently implementing projects aimed at removing barriers to inclusive learning for children with deafblindness, supporting the government to establish an early identification, sensory screening and rehabilitation programme, and improving livelihoods for people with deafblindness and their families.

We continue to work with, and through, the National Association of the Deafblind in Uganda and the Uganda Parents with Deafblind Children Associations in the delivery of our work.

A young boy signing

Education and rehabilitation

We work with government and education institutions to improve deafblind/MSI people’s access to appropriate education.

  • 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 (22 male, 23 female) Special Education Needs (SEN) teachers were trained and 364 (135 male, 229 female) mainstream teachers have increased knowledge and skills to support learners with deafblindness.
  • With our support 301 (166 male, 189 female) 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.

A mother hugging her baby girl

Advocacy and campaigning

We work closely with the Government and Ministry of Health and Education – and with networks of people with deafblindness/MSI – to develop services for deafblind/MSI people in Uganda.

  • 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 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.

A baby receiving a hearing screening test whilst lying down

Early intervention

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.

Work in progress

  • 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.

“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.

First published: Monday 19 August 2013
Last updated: Wednesday 14 February 2018