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Emancipation Processes in the Ugandan Deaf Community


Although a large number of the world’s deaf people are living in sub-Saharan Africa, their personal and collective lives have remained largely undocumented. Uganda’s deaf community has been a political pioneer in the region, and this study describes the emancipation processes of this community in relation to the effects of long-term and short-term development programmes that have taken place. While Uganda’s achievements have provided opportunities beyond what is available in other African countries, its deaf citizens still face substantial challenges in gaining genuine access to employment, education, public and health services, familial and cultural practices such as marriage, and rights to use Ugandan Sign Language.

These contexts are all explored in this first-ever research-based documentation of their linguistic and cultural heritage, presented through visual multimedia storytelling under the title Snapshots of the Ugandan Deaf Community. Creative drama, historical photographs, personal narratives and intergenerational dialogues from community members in Kampala and Mbale offer a fascinating insight into deaf Ugandans’ collective memories and the blossoming of their unique values and communal identity.

An unprecedented exhibition The coming of age of the Ugandan deaf community, and a book, Developing Sustainably? The Ugandan deaf community looking back and forward (Fountain Publishers), are the culmination of this international research project, which was made possible by the UK’s University of Manchester and Uganda’s Kyambogo University. 

(More detail is at the project website:

Duration of the project


Funding body

British Academy Small Research Grant, Sir Ernest Cassel Trust Fund Travel Grant

Members of the project

Name Role
Dr Goedele De Clerck Principal investigator
Dr. Sam Lutalo-Kiingi Co-investigator
Ms. Bonnie Busingye Research assistant

Follow the project also through research blogs:

British Academy Blog (27 November 2015): Telling the full story... documenting the emancipation of deaf Ugandans