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Services for people with Communication Disabilities in Uganda: supporting a new Speech and Language Therapy profession

Marshall, JE and Wickenden, M (2018) Services for people with Communication Disabilities in Uganda: supporting a new Speech and Language Therapy profession. Disability and the Global South, 5 (1). pp. 1215-1233. ISSN 2050-7364

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Abstract

Services for people with communication disability (PWCD), including speech and language therapists (SLTs), are scarce in countries of the global South. A SLT degree programme was established at Makerere University, Uganda, in 2008. In 2011, an innovative project was set up to provide in-service training and mentoring for graduates and staff of the programme. This paper describes the project and its evaluation over three years. Three types of input: direct training, face-to-face individual and group meetings, and remote mentoring, were provided to 26 participants and evaluated using written and verbal methods. The first two types of input were evaluated mainly positively, while remote mentoring received more mixed evaluations. Less positive evaluations were linked to factors including resourcing, cultural perceptions about professional roles and services, work patterns, power/status, engagement, perceptions of help-seeking, community recognition of the needs for services for PWCD. Findings suggest that participatory approaches, flexibility, reflexivity and open discussion with participants around support and work challenges, are important. Power gradients between white Northern ‘experts’ and relatively inexperienced East African SLTs, contributed to some challenges. Structural issues about degree programme structures and statutory bodies, provide lessons about the development of new services and professions in low-income settings.

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