The introduction of Ugandan Sign Language in Acholi, northern Uganda, was part of a growing internationally linked disability movement in the country and was set within the framework of development policy and human rights-based approaches. In this context, Ugandan Sign Language appeared as a technology of development. But how did the appropriation of Ugandan Sign Language change deaf people’s lives, their being-in-the-world, in Acholi? In using the theoretical approach of existential and instrumental perspectives on technologies by Martin Heidegger, this article analyses the complex transitions following the appropriation of Ugandan Sign Language on international, national and local levels. The disability movement – including Ugandan Sign Language projects – reached Acholi during the time of war between the Lord’s Resistance Army and Ugandan national forces. Displacement brought scattered deaf people together in towns and camps, where Ugandan Sign Language was introduced through workshops and institutions including churches. This created new forms of communication and possibilities of sociality. After the war, gender differences emerged, as many deaf women returned to rural homes where they had few opportunities to communicate with other sign language users.