Deaf Children at Mulago School for the Deaf, Kampala attending class
Informed by findings in a survey on the appalling education situation of Deaf children in Uganda conducted in 2010, SignHealth Uganda embarked on an early childhood education programme, launching our pioneer class at Uganda school for the Deaf in Ntinda in April 2011. This was after the realization that many deaf children were beginning school as late as nine years; missing out on key growth milestones such as: socialization and language development which hampered their cognitive development and academic progress.
Our main aim was to ensure timely intervention so that deaf children start school as early as 3 years and be able to socialize, acquire numeracy and literacy skills. Deaf friendly teaching methods and learning materials were developed with teachers for the deaf under the guidance of Special Needs education specialists both in Uganda and Kenya.
Children have been progressing well in all learning areas (numeracy, reading, writing, communication and socialization) with the addition usage of the interactive communication board that amplified Sign Language acquisition and interaction between teachers, parents and children. The programme was later extended to nine other schools -reaching 3 regions of Uganda (Kampala, greater Masaka and Arua).
Currently, the programme has benefited over 1200 children in the last twelve years.
There has been a good balance of indoor and outdoor play and socialization with provision of equipping of play areas and stimulation play materials at all the 6 supported schools.
We utilize a holistic approach that engages children, teachers and their parents; with a series of talent development activities, exchange visits and exposure opportunities including interschool visits and trips to key national landmarks such as Wildlife Education Center- the zoo for visual stimulation.
Sign Health Uganda is indebted to our partners from Deaf Reach, partner schools, UNAD and other stakeholders that have inspired us over the years towards our signature intervention and helping to keep the programme alive.