The Persons with Disabilities Act, 2018 provides, among others, that all newscasts on public and private television stations must have a Ugandan sign language interpreter, to facilitate communication for people with hearing impairments. The task combines signing, finger spelling, and specific body language translated between a spoken and a signed language.
Media managers have welcomed with reservations, provisions
of the new Persons with Disabilities law, which was enacted by parliament last
The Persons with Disabilities
Act, 2018 provides, among others, that all newscasts on public and private
television stations must have a Ugandan sign language interpreter, to
facilitate communication for people with hearing impairments. The task combines
signing, finger spelling, and specific body language translated between a
spoken and a signed language.
Several Ugandan Television stations have been employing one sign
language interpreter, featuring in the prime time bulletins but the law seeks
to increase the frequency and ensure that people with hearing impairments can
access news content, whenever it’s aired.
But media managers argue that although
the move is good for enhancing inclusiveness, it is unaffordable for a number
of players in the sector. Joe Kigozi, the Chief Strategy Officer at Next Media
Services says that with the mandatory provision, PWDs will have access to information
which they have only been getting in only one of the several newscasts per day.
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Charles James Ssenkubuge, the
General Manager of Salt TV says implementing the law comes with a cost implication
to the media house, especially to the editorial team. Ssenkubuge says that they will require two
additional sign language interpreters to back the one interpreter who currently
features in the pm and 9 pm bulletins.
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Daniel Kalinaki, the General
Manager, Editorial at Nation Media Group Uganda says the law will make
information accessible to all, including segments of society that might be
handicapped physically or by lack of access.
Kalinaki oversees NTV Uganda among other NMG Uganda outlets.
Kalinaki, however, adds that it would
be meaningful if the Uganda Communications Commission, which has the mandate to
increase access to information, invests in training and facilitating sign
language interpreters in order to ensure that media houses are not financially
The Deputy Managing Director of Uganda
Broadcasting Corporation Maurice Mugisha welcomes the new law saying that it is
a timely response to a 15-year-long demand from PWDs to enjoy their right to
access information. He says that the inclusion of interpreters in all newscasts
will guarantee that people with hearing impairments participate in the national
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However, Mugisha is cognizant of the cost of implementing
the new provision on newscasts saying that the move is likely to push the UBC
wage bill up.
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In a phone interview, Vision Group Chief Executive Officer Robert
Kabushenga declined to comment saying he had not read the specific provision of
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Hope Agwang, the president for the Uganda National Sign
Language Association says that Kyambogo University, the institution which is
mandated to train interpreters has churned out 204 professional interpreters since
2004. However, only 63 of these are practising either as part-time or full-time
Agwang is optimistic that the new law could create more jobs
for the professional sign language interpreters.