Republic of Uganda

  • Total Population

    43 million

  • Deaf Population


  • Nation's Official Language

    English, Swahili

  • Other Languages

    The number of established languages listed in Ethnologue is 44.  Some of these are:

    • Acholi
    • Alur
    • Amba
    • Aringa
    • Ateso
    • Chiga
    • Fumbira
    • Ganda
    • Jopadhola
    • Kakwa
    • Kenye
    • Konzo
    • Kumam
    • Ma’di
    • Masaaba
    • Ng’akarimojong
    • Nyankore
    • Nyoro
    • Ruruuli-Runyala
    • Saamya-Gwe
    • Soga
    • Talinga-Bwisi
    • Thur
    • Tooro
  • Name of Sign Language

    Ugandan Sign Language (UgSL)

  • Overview Of Deaf Community And Education

    The first school for the deaf was founded in 1961: Uganda School for the Deaf. The Ngora school was opened in 1969. There are now several primary schools and units for the deaf but it thought that less than 2% of deaf children are attending school.

    UNAD organizes SL courses for parents, teachers, police and health workers.

  • Sign Language Overview

    The generation that first attended school talk about their home signs being used and evolving into UgSL. A Sign Language training manual was developed in 1994. Since then there have been several dictionaries, the most recent being from 2006. Some research on UgSL (phonology, morphology and syntax) has been done at Kyambogo University in Kampala and is summarized in Lutalo-Kiingi et al. (2015).

    Variation in UgSl is found close to the borders, there being local dialects. BSL influenced the language used at the Ugandan School for the Deaf. ASL has also had an influence but it is thought to be limited. There was also contact with Kenyan SL since deaf adults went to Kenya for training. UgSL is judged as comprehensible to signers of KSL.

    UgSL is used by interpreters and instructors in education, although there is an increasing tendency to use SEE in educational contexts. UgSL was officially recognized in 1995. One SL course is provided by Kyombogo University Unit of Special Needs financed by the government.

    According to the Bickford et al. (2014) categories, Ugandan Sign Language is assessed to be developing by Ethnologue.

  • Deaf Organizations

    • Ugandan National Deaf Association (UNAD), founded in 1973

  • Overview of Interpreting Services

    There are about 200 qualified interpreters but these are expensive, meaning that volunteers are often used. The Uganda National Association of Sign Language Interpreters (UNASLI) estimates that there are more than 100 interpreters of which 77 have been trained. UNAD organizes interpretation services. The government news program is interpreted but health information is not.

  • Resources

    Cassingham, R. n.d. [after 1994]. Sign Language Basic Vocabulary: Information for Teachers and Parents. Kampala: Uganda National Institute of Special Education 

    Lutalo-Kiingi, Sam & De Clerck, Goedele A. M. (2015) Ugandan Sign Language. In Sign Languages of the World. A Comparative Handbook. Jepsen, Julie Bakken, De Clerck, Goedele, Lutalo-Kiingi, Sam, McGregor, William B (eds). Paris: De Gruyter Mouton. pp 811-840.  .  

    Uganda National Association of the Deaf. (1998). Manual of Ugandan Signs. Kampala: UNAD. (1999). Manual of Ugandan Signs, rev. ed. Kampala: UNAD.  

    Wallin, L., D. Lule, Sam Lutalo-Kiingi, and B. Busingye. (2006). Uganda Sign Language Dictionary. Sign Language Project, Faculty of Special Needs Education, Kyambogo University, Kampala.  

  • List of Contributors

    Edgar Bwire, Joyce Nalugya, Anne Baker

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