Results Follow Up, UNAD 2017
The project “Digitalizing Uganda Sign Language” aims to make Uganda sign language accessible via digital platforms.
There is no digital resource available to learn Uganda sign language today.
Spider supports the implementation and research for the project “Digitalizing Uganda Sign Language”. The project is based in Uganda and aims to make Uganda sign language accessible via digital platforms across the country. The Spider results follow up performed a baseline study at the beginning of the project to examine the level of ICT use and accessibility for sign language in Uganda’s various regions. This will help UNAD understand stakeholders’ experiences, expectations and the challenges in utilising Uganda’s digital sign-language content.
The baseline study on use of ICTs for learning sign language in Uganda shows that mobile apps, social media networks and CDs are very helpful in learning sign language. Findings show that there are low levels of ICT use and accessibility among sign language learners in the different regions of Uganda. Yet the attitude towards using ICTs to learn sign language is positive, among the deaf, their friends, sign language instructors, parents and community service providers (such as nurses, the police, teachers, business persons, etc.).
Social media groups, videos on WhatApps and Facebook, mobile apps and compact discs (CDs) were among some of the commonly used ICTs for learning sign language.
The baseline study found that challenges related to use of these ICTs include unaffordable costs for Internet especially when learners have to share and download videos and also acquiring the artefacts (smartphones, CDs, etc.).
Literacy among deaf persons was found to be low. A majority of them have only primary school education. Most schools offer no special education beyond primary level. Literacy challenges also make it difficult to use ICTs as well as other learning materials such as dictionaries and tutorials.
The baseline study highlights some of the interventions to address challenges faced by deaf people and sign language learners in Uganda. The Ugandan population has to be sensitised on how to communicate with the deaf rather than stereotyping them as social misfits. To achieve this, the study recommends creating awareness programmes and integrating sign language learning into national education programmes.
Literacy challenges also make it difficult to use ICTs as well as learning materials such as dictionaries and tutorials.
There is a need to borrow a leaf from universal sign language programmes but also to contextualise particular interventions, especially the curriculum and content developed. Some of the signs are not universal and for this reason the signs confuse learners. Therefore, learning materials should address content localisation issues.
When it comes to learning sign language using ICTs, the study found that there is a need to streamline strategies for digital sign language implementation. For example availing digital resources (content, devices, etc.) to the deaf and their helpers and empowering people and institutions which were found to be influential in supporting the deaf: that is, friends, religious institutions, family members and deaf instructors. These would scale the cause.