Social Responsibility

Signed storytelling documents deaf Ugandans’ heritage

Thu, 18 Feb 2016 14:26:00 GMT

Among African deaf communities, Uganda’s stands out as a political pioneer, having achieved recognition of its sign language over 20 years ago. Until recently, this community’s courageous route toward empowerment remained unexamined. Researchers from the University of Manchester’s Social Research with Deaf People group (SORD) and Uganda’s Kyambogo University addressed this gap by studying their emancipation. This work has revealed how deaf Ugandans continue to experience barriers in all realms of life, alongside many instances of individual and collective triumph.

Under the title Snapshots of the Ugandan Deaf Community, signed multimedia storytelling documented deaf Ugandans’ linguistic and cultural heritage. Creative drama, photographs, narratives and intergenerational dialogues offer a fascinating insight into their collective memories and the blossoming of their communal identity. This culminated in the September 2015 exhibition The Coming of Age of the Ugandan Deaf Community at Kyambogo. Findings were also presented at the World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf (July 2015, Istanbul) and Bridging the Gap 3 (November 2015, University of Manchester).

The project was facilitated by a British Academy Small Research Grant (2015) awarded to Dr Goedele A.M. De Clerck, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at SORD, and was also orchestrated by two Kyambogo staff, Dr Sam Lutalo-Kiingi and Ms Bonnie Busingye. The resulting book, Developing Sustainably? The Ugandan deaf community looking back and forward (Fountain Publishers), is a leading resource for Kyambogo’s courses in Deaf Studies, Ugandan Sign Language Interpreting and Instruction, and Special Needs.

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