Deaf Graduates: We Can Also Deliver if Given Chance

6th Graduation Ceremony at Apoolo Na Angor Skills Development Academy

The Deaf people in Uganda have complained about exclusion in the job market saying potential employers consider their disability over their qualifications and ability to deliver on jobs.

They say that this has rendered them jobless, prostate limited their productive potential, information pills subjected them to abject poverty, despair and disqualified them from employee benefits.

They blamed discriminatory hiring policies and a lack of a deliberate policy by the public service to promote the employment of marginalised groups which has made it difficult for PWDs as a whole to get and retain employment, “we are often the last to be hired and the first to be fired,” said Ambrose Murangira, Executive Director, Uganda National Association of the Deaf (UNAD.)

He added; “The chances of deaf people getting employed are very limited. We are not employed in the public service and mainstream organisations. We have been relegated to working in Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) and in the informal sector.”

A deaf and disability scholar, Murangira made the remarks during a press conference by deaf graduates under the auspices of UNAD at National Theatre this morning.

The briefing was also addressed by 20 representatives of deaf graduates who shared touching experiences of their rejection in the job market and complained of a lack of relevant data on their absorption in the job market which makes it difficult for government to plan for them, derails their advocacy efforts and understanding of their plight by the wider public.

Although there is scanty statistics on the employment rate of PWDs in Uganda, there is no doubt that the employment rate is low amongst PWDs.

“This is double jeorpady for us because to study and graduate as a deaf person means overcoming great odds only to be shunned by the job market,” said Rogers Kadoma, one of the graduates.

Call for affirmative action

The deaf asked for affirmative action as a means of increasing their absorption in the labour market,

“Without affirmative action, more employers will not feel a sense of obligation to employ the deaf and PWDs as a whole. Affirmative action will be a key tool for us push for increased absorption rates in the job market”, said Doreen Sandra Kauma, the Gender and Vulnerable Groups Coordinator at UNAD.

A recent Disability Rights Coalition report suggests that employees with disabilities should at all times not be less than 5% for private employers and 10% for the public service.

The labour market in Uganda presents multiple hurdles for the deaf and PWDs to overcome if they are to be absorbed in the job market. These range from physical access, access to information about vacancies, and self-confidence of PWDs to seek out opportunities because of the unique challenges and what society perceives them as.

Though the legislation provides the framework for employment of PWDs in the private sector, the majority of stakeholders interviewed in a recent NUDIPU mapping found that the majority of PWDs are still working in the informal sector which also presents its own challenges to PWDs, “for instance the deaf can’t effectively bargain with potential buyers, clients, service providers because of a limited awareness about sign language,” Murangira said.


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