Experiences of students with hearing impairment at Makerere University
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Despite the presence of a number of policy frameworks on disability right from the global level, regional level, and national till the institutional level- Makerere University, students with disabilities continue to face various challenges Therefore, the purpose of this study was to describe the experiences of students with hearing impairment at Makerere University regarding their interaction with other students and lecturers in and outside class, and the nature of support systems available for students with disabilities in Makerere University. The study was undertaken as a case study and employed qualitative methods of data collection. Using an in-depth interview guide, interviews were conducted with a total of six students with hearing impairment at Makerere University. At the time of the study, these students were enrolled in various study programs and were recruited basing on the principle of data saturation. I also interviewed one interpreter, one lecturer, and one custodian, one student with other forms of disabilities, one student without disability and one administrator. All the interviews were video recorded for primary participants and audio recorded for key informants. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. In interviews and discussions with students with hearing impairments, they mentioned that they are subjected to different forms of discrimination from fellow students both while in lecture rooms and outside of lecture rooms. Students with hearing impairment also mentioned that they face limited participation in academic activities in Makerere University, negative attitude from other people without disabilities, among other areas. During interviews, students with hearing impairment also reported that they find it hard to communicate with fellow students or lecturers and can only communicate effectively by the use of sign language and sign language interpreters. However, when I interviewed some of the administrators, it was reported that students with hearing impairments are given special consideration when it comes to room allocation and other services or considerations. Based on the findings, it is clear that students with hearing impairment continue to thrive like other students within Makerere University despite the challenges they face. However, I recommend that Universities should strengthen support systems for students with disabilities, establishment of a disability centre, combining efforts to achieve equity and non-discrimination at the University among other recommendations.