SBC Works! Partnership with Tanzania Association of the Deaf (CHAVITA) to Promote COVID-19 Vaccine Demand among People with Special Needs

Success stories from Eastern and Southern Africa


The deaf population is a linguistic minority, using sign language as their primary mode of communication. Because of their disability, most deaf people lack formal education, therefore it is hard for them to access the common oral COVID-19 vaccine messages which are transmitted through formal awareness channels such as televisions and radios, which are not always inclusive enough. The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak revealed communication gaps in the health sector, as many people with hearing impairments in hospitals did not have a consistent way to communicate with doctors and staff. The lack of sign language interpreters and the use of masks created additional barriers for deaf persons. Masks reduce access to mouth movement and facial expression, leading to miscommunication and increasing feelings of frustration and isolation. Due to the inaccessibility of the available information and communication barriers with health workers, the deaf population in Tanzania is more likely to miss out on vaccination and other preventative measures, and therefore even more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. 

To reach and engage people with disabilities (PWD), especially with hearing impairments with COVID-19 information and prevention measures particularly vaccine uptake, UNICEF Tanzania in partnership with the Tanzania Association of the Deaf (CHAVITA) implemented the “COVID-19 Vaccine Demand Promotion: Improved Awareness and Confidence on COVID-19 preventive measures including the deaf population in Tanzania” programme in three regions of Tanzania (Arusha, Mwanza and Mbeya) for 6 months in 2022.

May 2023

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