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From our discussions with young people stories of abuse and pregnancy are extremely common, and demonstrate how little deaf young people know about their rights and how problematic attitudes within communities often are towards deaf young people – especially girls – seeing them as easy targets as they are often unable to report abuse.
Following our consultation with deaf young people we have decided to narrow our focus for this pilot stage. In the first instance we will develop training and resources with deaf young people who have received some level of education and can communicate with sign language. The reason for this is that we want deaf young people to be at the heart of developing the training and resources, and to do this they must have some basic communication skills. Once we have worked with this group, we hope to use our learning to consider how to reach more marginalised groups of deaf young people. Our consultations have shown that even those with education and some communication are still extremely vulnerable and marginalised. Deaf young people without communication have unique challenges which we think will need a focused project to meet their language and communication needs, before moving on to more complex matters such as sexual and reproductive health. Saying that Deaf young people without sign language skills will not be excluded from the project – but they won’t be the main target group.
Our consultations with deaf young people have shown that they are very passionate about supporting others in their community. What makes deaf young people the best approach is that they are best able to communicate with their peers on the same level, and with sign language that works best for young people. When using interpreters, they know a formal and official Ugandan Sign Language, but the young people use local signs which the interpreters don’t know. Therefore young people from within the local community can overcome the communication barriers.
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