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The Ugandan Woman Behind TV for the Deaf


Professional sign language interpreter and Productions Lead at Signs TV Uganda Susan Mujaawa, speaks during an interview with Reuters outside their studios in Kabalagala suburb of Kampala, Uganda July 18, 2022.

When Susan Mujawa Ananda heard a deaf man had been shot and wounded during the global health crisis, she decided to act.

His family says he didn't know there was a curfew.

Ananda's solution to bridging the information gap was to set up an online television channel for deaf people.

“The security guys called upon him to explain why he was moving beyond curfew hours and unfortunately because he did not hear, he kept on moving."

Late last year Ananda, who is a sign language interpreter, teamed up wither her friend Simon Eroku, who is deaf.

After winning a grant, they founded Signs TV.

In a typical broadcast the news is read by two deaf anchors and simultaneously signed by an interpreter, going slowly to match the anchor's pace.

The screen also carries subtitles.

Professional sign Language interpreter Jonan Opori, Productions Lead at Signs TV Uganda Susan Mujaawa and Signs TV Uganda Team Leader Simon Eroku are filmed inside their studio in Kabalagala suburb of Kampala, Uganda July 18, 2022.
Professional sign Language interpreter Jonan Opori, Productions Lead at Signs TV Uganda Susan Mujaawa and Signs TV Uganda Team Leader Simon Eroku are filmed inside their studio in Kabalagala suburb of Kampala, Uganda July 18, 2022.

Eroku said the future of communication must be inclusive.

“This implies that we have to ensure that everyone in the community should be able to understand the message you’re passing on and we believe that if information is inclusive for everyone even us as deaf people will be able to benefit from it.”

Signs TV made its first broadcast in April and employs eight staff including four deaf anchors. For now it produces only one weekly news roundup on Saturdays due to financial, staffing and technical constraints.

Up to about 800 viewers have watched individual bulletins so far and the numbers are growing. Ananda says Signs TV has ambitions to expand including offering sports and talk shows.

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