Sign language interpreters from Gulu City and Amuru District have been equipped with skills to debunk misinformation and fake news circulated on social media spaces.
Willy Chowoo, the Head of Training and Digital Content at Content Tech Media (CT Media) in Gulu city says the training seeks to equip the sign language interpreters with basic knowledge to become agents of fact-checking for the deaf community in the region.
The growing threat of misinformation and disinformation coupled with fake news have not spared people living with disabilities especially the deaf.
Much of the information being circulated according to Chowoo is circulated as “news” by social media by unidentified persons targeting people in vulnerable positions including the deaf.
Chowoo said it is important that sign language interpreters are trained to fight the vice to ensure and promote digital inclusiveness.
He says while social media is a source of information, the majority of its contents don’t favor those with hearing impairment coupled with the fast spread of false information.
Chowoo notes that the training will equip the sign language interpreters with basic multimedia skills in editing visual and non-visual content with subtitles and audio to help share authentic information with deaf persons.
The five-day training is funded by the International Center for Journalists (ICJ) under a mentorship program that will last for two months. Those who will have completed the course will graduate as trainers of trainees.
The trainers are expected to help in verifying information within the community and spread factual and authentic information to the deaf community in the areas they are working.
Eric Otober, a Sign Language Interpreter and teacher lauded the initiative saying it will help persons with hearing impairment counter online misinformation and disinformation.
He says the majority of the persons with hearing impairment in Gulu city who have access to the internet and social media sites do not have the knowledge of how to verify and counter misinformation and disinformation.
Sandra Abalo, the Northern Uganda Sign Language Female Representative says little has been done to improve access to information for people with hearing impairment in the country.
She cited the Covid-19 pandemic period where deaf people were left behind with information that was broadcast on national television, radio stations, and online.
Abalo says with the training, they will now be able to engage with their community of deaf people and clarify information that is inauthentic.
By 2022, Uganda had approximately 1.3 million deaf people according to statistics from the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
Statistics from Datareportal, show that the country had 11.7 million internet users by the start of the year out of which 2.05 are social media users, equating to 4.3 percent of the total population by January this year.