Sub-Saharan Africa
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U-Signup: Uganda’s New App to Promote Sign Language Through Digitization

LOVE hands - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 04.07.2024
In 2022, Hellen Asamo, the Minister of State for Gender, Labor, and Social Development, reported that Uganda has 1.29 million deaf people. While many benefit from the Special Grant for Persons with Disabilities, the deaf continue to face significant challenges, particularly the shortage of interpreters in schools and medical institutions.
The Uganda National Association of the Deaf (UNAD) launched the U-signup app, which aims to digitize and promote Ugandan sign language across the country, local media outlet The Monitor reported on Wednesday.
More than 2,000 people have reportedly downloaded the app so far. It's compatible with both iOS and Android.
UNAD has added various training videos that learners can use to teach themselves sign language and interact with each other, according to Robert Nkwangu, the organization's executive director.

"The introduction of the digital sign language application is one of the initiatives we embarked on during our celebrations of 50 years of existence," he was quoted as saying.

Florence Mukasa, a UNAD Board member, emphasized that the new system will help more deaf people teach themselves formal sign language, unlike hard copies, which have a limited lifespan, the report said. She stressed the importance of supporting the deaf community in learning sign language, as many are currently unable to express themselves in it.

"This digital system will help teach deaf people so that they can live their independent lives because, at the end of the day, they have to plan for their future," she reportedly said.

Edna Kaindi, a Kenyan deaf journalist, news anchor and host of the Glamour Show on Kenya's Sighs TV. - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 03.03.2024
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Alex Ndezi, a member of Parliament representing people with disabilities, pointed out that while the hearing community has easy access to information, the deaf community relies on sign language interpreters, which are in short supply, impacting service delivery. Ndezi urged the government to speed up the implementation of sign language interpreters in all public offices to improve service delivery to the deaf community.

"This can also be achieved when there is affirmative action for deaf persons because the group is vulnerable when it comes to communication," he said, as cited by the Monitor.

The World Health Organization forecasts that by 2050, about 2.5 billion people will experience some level of hearing loss, and at least 700 million will require hearing rehabilitation. A global increase in ear and hearing care services requires an annual investment of less than $1.40 per person, which could yield a return of nearly $16 for every dollar invested over a decade.
The main causes of deafness include genetic factors, infections (such as measles, mumps, or meningitis), exposure to loud noise, aging, and complications at birth.