Case study: Sam Lutalo-Kiingi

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Programme: Visiting Fellowships 2018

Award-holder: Dr Sam Lutalo-Kiingi, Kyambogo University

Project title: Professional Ugandan Sign Language Interpreting Services: Evaluating an Academic Training Programme and Identifying Challenges in Practice

Amount: £28,191

Country of focus: Uganda

The British Academy has supported the development of the first-ever university-level qualification in professional sign language interpreting in the East Africa region.

The Diploma in Ugandan Sign Language Interpreting (UgSLI) at Kyambogo University, Uganda, has been taught for over 15 years. It has produced over 200 qualified Ugandan sign language interpreters and is currently the only academic sign language interpreting course in sub-Saharan Africa.

In collaboration with Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, this project explored the views of sign language interpreters and deaf professionals in Uganda, in order to plan for an upgrade of the diploma course into a university-level undergraduate training programme. Both sign language interpreters and deaf service users agree on the need for further professionalisation in the field and such a programme would provide interpreters with the skills to work in diverse professional settings. The programme would also serve to enhance rights protection for deaf people in Uganda.

The availability of qualified sign language interpreters across Uganda is vital to enabling deaf people to participate in all domains of public life, providing them with better access to education and employment, and enhancing their opportunities for inclusion. University-level qualifications would also improve the prospects of sign language interpreters, boosting their earning potential and allowing them to pursue work across sectors, in national and international settings. It is expected that the training programme will furthermore support ongoing advocacy for the recognition of sign language interpreting as a profession by the Ugandan government and, ultimately, for the governmental provision of sign language interpreting services.


“The British Academy Visiting Fellowship was a unique opportunity for me to cooperate with colleagues at Heriot-Watt University, not only for my academic research, but also for curriculum development. During my stay in the UK, I was able to observe courses, discuss training methods and develop a draft curriculum that could be taken forward upon my return to Uganda. The fellowship also enabled me to expand my knowledge base in sign language linguistics and deaf cultural research. This is particularly valuable since there are few opportunities for accessing such research and funding in Uganda.” – Dr Sam Lutalo-Kiingi.

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