Sandra Karaki likes to stay informed. She loves news and she can do anything to know what is happening in and around the country. Yet Karaki faces one high hurdle: she is deaf. This means she can’t listen to the radio and the newspapers are too expensive to buy daily.
“I don’t have the money to buy [news] papers every day,” she says. However, Karaki can watch TV. But to get meaning from what she watches, there must be a sign language interpreter. “I must be there to watch news,” she says, beaming. “I am happy that a number of TVs have signers to interpret for us when they are reading news.”
TV stations with sign language interpreters include UBC, NBS TV, and Bukedde. While these TVs, including the state broadcaster UBC, have included sign language into their programming, not all programmes have interpreters. “Mostly, they bring us sign language when reading news and that is all,” Karaki says. “Without signers, we can only watch images without making sense of them.”
Karaki is among some 700,000 deaf persons and hundreds of other people with disabilities (PWDs) in Uganda, who find it challenging to have access to any information, whether from government ministries or private entities. “Many a time, we depend on the media for most of our information needs and if it [information] is not made possible for us to have access to this information, we are left out,” Karaki argues.
*PWD (People with disabilities)