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Assessing Visual and Hearing Impairments in Children

Aim: This project aims to discover and document how widespread visual and hearing impairments are among children and young people under the age of 15 in the Kisoro District, Uganda.

Children with disabilities in Uganda are often stigmatised, hidden and neglected. Without support and information, parents and carers often consider children with disabilities unequal to their peers and underserving of proper care and opportunities, including school. This leaves a vulnerable group with an extremely bleak future, both in the short and longer term.

The hospital will galvanise a core team of experts to visit children at home, in schools and in the local community. As well as gathering data, the hospital will provide counselling to parents/guardians, explaining the nature and causes of disabilities, dispelling cultural myths that may prejudice those with impairments, and giving advice on the medical services, corrective procedures, adaptive devices and learning pathways that may be available. The project aims to arm families with better knowledge and potential ways of improving the situation for individual children. It also seeks to generate better awareness and understanding of disability and associated issues at community level and to create a body of knowledge that the hospital and school can share with government and statutory bodies as well as other NGOs and interested partners to inform future planning and decision making. This project is run in partnership with Dr Ellen Percy Kraly, Professor of Geography at Colgate University in New York State.

Location: Kisoro District, in southwest Uganda

Local Partner: St. Francis Hospital, Mutolere

Co-funder: Masikini Foundation

Beneficiaries: the study population is approximately 14,100 children with visual and hearing impairment up to the age of 15 in Kisoro district. It will include children both in school and those not enrolled.