Collaboration to improve information on available assistive devices

Sandra Nabulega May 6, 2021

6 reasons for collaboration between human rights organisations, illustrated by the successful example when Pollicy and the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU) worked together on the ICT and Assistive Technology for Persons With Disabilities Report. A plea for collaboration.

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A look at how far it has brought us.

Collaboration is a common practice in today’s society that has proven to be powerful for solving problems, building consensus, and helping decision-making processes. Collaboration can be considered as organizations working together to achieve a common goal through sharing knowledge, skills, and sometimes sharing contacts within their networks.

Due to collaboration between Pollicy and the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU), we recently conducted a dissemination workshop where we shared findings from a research study that was conducted on access and use of ICT and assistive devices for persons with disabilities in Gulu, Omoro, Nwoya, and Pader.

The study involved 306 persons with disabilities, disabled people’s organizations, service providers, inclusive education institutions and representatives from government entities. To successfully reach these stakeholders for the study, we had to form a partnership with the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU), an umbrella organization for all organizations of persons with disabilities in Uganda. NUDIPU has full membership of 112 district Unions of persons with disabilities in Uganda and 9 national disabled people’s organizations (DPOs) with a mandate of promoting an enabling environment for PWDs through policy advocacy, facilitating cooperation between DPOs, communities, Government, development partners, and the private sector.

This study was complex and demanded a wide range of skills. For example no one on our team knew sign language therefore we needed an individual/organization with some of these skills. Collaborating with NUDIPU not only facilitated knowledge or skills transfer but also “plugged” us into a wider network of contacts within the persons with disabilities community.

6 Reasons why collaboration between human rights organizations is important

Collaboration among human rights organizations brings with them potential benefits such as:

  1. Strengthens advocacy work

For human rights organisations advocating for minorities’ rights, it is important to have many voices from different corners and this can be made possible through collaboration. Collaboration with NUDIPU opened for us a door to different Disabled people’s organisations in the north with interest in ICT. While we are creating awareness about affordable assistive devices in Kampala, these organisations started campaigns too in northern Uganda. With these many voices, other stakeholders and the government will see ICTs and assistive devices as important for persons with disabilities.

  1. Enhances Data sharing and management

There is a lot of information about assistive device needs of persons with disabilities within organizations of persons with disabilities that is rarely captured and shared. Several organizations working with minorities like persons with disabilities collect data but there is still a paucity of data about these communities. Take the case of the population of persons with disabilities in Uganda, 12 .4% has always been the percentage quoted for the population of persons with disabilities in Uganda since 2016. Several organizations have done research and datasets which remain on the shelves, yet if they were shared, it could go a long way in influencing policies.

  1. Facilitates information dissemination

For Uganda, policy formulation appears to be an easier job than dissemination. Many people at the grassroots are not aware of these policies. Through collaboration between human rights organizations and the government, these policies can reach grassroots people through sensitization and awareness creation. Take an example of Gulu Disabled Persons Union, a collective voice for persons with disabilities in the northern Ugandan district of Gulu working with the National Union of Women with Disabilities of Uganda (NUWODU), a women-led Disabled People’s Organization towards uniting women with disabilities at the grass root and the existing national organizations of women with disability through sharing information.

Another example is during the dissemination of our research findings through collaboration with organizations that attended, our findings reached a wider audience. This was through Infographics showcasing the research findings that were given to these organizations and can be easily found in their offices.

  1. Collaboration facilitates knowledge sharing among human rights organizations

It is not only persons with disabilities without knowledge about the available assistive device. My team had limited knowledge about both the assistive devices available on the Ugandan market and the suppliers. I only knew about wheelchairs, lenses, magnifiers, and hearing aids. Enabling Service limited, an organization that came in through our collaboration with NUDIPU took the team through a practical session on how to use the different assistive devices on the Ugandan market. We gained knowledge about the braille alphabet, slate, and stylus and how to operate a Perkins Brailler

  1. Simplifies the work of the government

It is a common view that the government is supposed to do everything. If something is not done, blame is put on the government. For example, if people at the grassroots have no idea about the available policies, it’s the government to blame yet as human rights organizations, we could collaborate to ensure that information about these policies reach people everywhere.

  1. Facilitates sharing resources among human rights organizations.

When collaborating with another organization, there will always be things and resources that you can share. For example, as part of awareness creation workshops, we organized a practical session where persons with different forms of disabilities were to be trained on how to use the different assistive devices that suit their disabilities. Because we didn’t have any samples of assistive devices, Enabling Services Limited, a registered private enterprise providing various assistive products and services to enhance the quality of life of people with visual impairments and others with special needs agreed to be part of our workshops.

Collaboration is a hot buzzword today and with good reason. Working with people who have different perspectives or areas of expertise can result in better ideas and outcomes. Collaboration teaches us something new each day.

Part 1 of the report on the launch on 15 April in Kampala