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The case for official recognition of KSL There are no official figures for the number of KSL users in the Kenya, although it is estimated that there are between 600,000 and 800,000 people whose first and preferred language is KSL. There are as many Deaf KSL-users as there are speakers of some indigenous languages, and more people (Deaf and hearing) use KSL than either Swahili according to Ethnologue Report. Linguists have established that KSL is a language in its own right and is as complex and sophisticated as any spoken language. Like all linguistic minorities, members of the Deaf community have different degrees of access to the majority language of the wider community. Since KSL is more accessible to many Deaf people than spoken languages such as English, official recognition of KSL is especially important. BSL is the foundation for the self-esteem, educational achievement and social well being of the Kenya's Deaf community. However, that community exists within a wider society of hearing people. Consequently, Deaf people who use KSL experience high levels of social exclusion, particularly in the following areas: Access to information and services Deaf people face many barriers when using public and private services. This is frequently due to a lack of awareness of the needs of Deaf people on the part of service providers, and insufficient communication support. Deaf people with visual impairments (for example those with Usher syndrome) or other disabilities are especially disadvantaged. Because English is often their second language, Deaf KSL users do not always have full access to written information. Service providers therefore need to use interpreters wherever necessary and to make information available in KSL formats, for instance on video or CDROM. Interpreting Kenya Sign Language Interpreters Association (KSLIA) was set up by a group of 20 local interpreters after training by the first Deaf Education US Peace Corps Volunteers in September 2000. Prior to this training there were several short term trainings conducted by KSLRP/KNAD dating back to 1980s and 1990s. KSLIA is an indigenous initiative evolving and strengthening the face of the Interpreting profession in Kenya. KSLIA hopes to improve and elevate the standards of Interpreting in Kenya through the following objectives: 1. To secure official recognition by the Government of S.L Interpreters profession 2. Encourage and promote initiatives in improving the standards of SL interpreting and interpreter training and pay scale of interpreters depending with their level and skills of interpretation through certification. 3. Cooperation with other recognized bodies concerned in the welfare of the deaf and in provision of S.L Interpreters throughout the world. 4. Awareness creation on Deafness and SL. Interpreters through publication of information materials
2009 Global Deaf Connection. in Kenya. and KSLIA have jointly organized a series of trainings aimed at developing a process to provide training. educational provision for deaf children varies greatly between education authorities. This is a major obstacle to Deaf people's social inclusion.. To maintain and administer a registry of S. adopted in 1993.the three C's Certification of members. contribution. Continuing education for the practicing Interpreters and Conflict resolution through enforcement of the Code of Ethics. to which Britain is a signatory. The early acquisition of language is vital to the learning process and for some deaf children KSL will be more accessible than spoken languages. the use and teaching of KSL within a bilingual (KSL/English) learning environment is essential for some deaf children and adults. As of year 2000 there were only 50 practicing interpreters and 100 trainee interpreters registered by the Kenyan Sign Language Interpreters Association – KSLIA and the Kenyan Sign Language Research Project – KSLRP. However. Framework for Action (1994). fund raising whether in money or otherwise from both members and non members.should be recognized and provision made to ensure that all deaf persons have access to education in their national sign language. The Persons with Disabilities Act 2003 requires businesses and service-providers to make their services accessible to Deaf people. KSLIA is working towards the establishment of a training program and a certification process for its membership. Education In education. To collect and raise funds for the achievement of goals and objectives through membership fee. in their families and communities. Deaf Aid. states that: The importance of sign language as the medium of communication among the deaf. with some not offering bilingual programs and very few schools or resource bases . Accessibility However. The growth of demand for interpreters has not been matched by increased supply. subscription. Rule 5. gifts or donations.. similarly state that: Consideration should be given to the use of sign language in the education of the deaf children. [KSLIA] envisions its role in a three pronged approach . However due to lack of gazette notification of these laws into policy has greatly contributed to the marginalization of the Deaf community in Kenya. Between 2006 . there is currently a serious shortage. Sign language interpretation services should also be provided to facilitate the communication between deaf persons and others. certification and continued professional development for Kenyan Interpreters.L Interpreters in Kenya. 6. A KSL/spoken language interpreter provides a vital link between Deaf and hearing people. enforce a code of ethics and mediate conflict between the Interpreters and their clients. commissions and payments.5. para 21 The United Nations Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. The Framework of Action accompanying UNESCO's Salamanca Statement on Special Needs Education.
policies and procedures to enable disabled people to access their goods. Most schools in Kenya have for years insisted on the oral and or total communication mode of instruction. electoral commission. the Act also requires service providers to make "reasonable adjustments" to their practices. the Kenya National Examinations Council. this level of support remains the exception rather than the rule. The status of sign languages around the world The legal recognition of sign languages is one of the major concerns of the international Deaf community. and that argument is attracting increasing political support.more than 2000 people took basic level course in KSL since 1998. Such references to KSL in domestic legislation might be taken to imply "official recognition of KSL". facilities or services. symbolic recognition is no guarantee for an effective improvement of the life of sign language users.for deaf children offering any formal teaching of KSL. The Deaf community has consistently demanded a more comprehensive approach to recognition. every country has its own interpretation. There is a KSL dictionary. Teaching and learning KSL Demand for KSL courses has increased dramatically in the last decade. 4. However. Deaf people continue to experience high levels of social exclusion. depending on the area they live in. More and more people are learning the language . the language is referred to in a number of Acts of Parliament and associated codes of practice with little or non supportive legal framework. the Persons with Disabilities Act 2003 include guidelines on the use of sign language interpreters by the media. this constitutes only an incremental approach to official recognition of KSL. However. 5. Many parents are denied the choice of a bilingual method of education for their deaf children. interactive self teaching CD. Kenya Institute of Special/Education – KIE/KISE have in last couple of years been developing curriculum and examination materials for KSL which are set to be used beginning 2010. In some countries. A lack of access to KSL learning can adversely affect the language development of some deaf children and so impede their subsequent learning. Some examples of these legislation include:- . However. there is a major shortage of trained and qualified KSL tutors and assessors. There is no standard way in which such recognition can be formally or legally extended. However. as might the inclusion of KSL as a subject of study within the framework of Kenyan education system. Despite such progress. Parents of deaf children also receive greatly varying amounts of information and training in KSL. the national sign language is an official state language. courts systems etc. whereas in others it has a protected status in certain areas such as education. For instance. at best. The legal status of KSL Although there is little legislation that makes specific provision for users of KSL.
with a distinct sub-culture recognised by shared history. The European Parliament has passed two resolutions calling on member states to recognize their respective national sign languages. the European Union of the Deaf Sign Languages Project. funded by the European Commission. Australia's Language: The Australian Language and Literacy Policy (page 20). thirteen other countries world-wide legally recognize their national sign languages. surveyed the status of sign languages in a number of countries. but use of Auslan in Deaf education and provision of Auslan/English interpreters is becoming more common. Canberra. (Australian Government Publishing Service. 1999.“It is now increasingly recognised that signing deaf people constitute a group like any other non-English speaking language group in Australia. In 1996-1997.. —New Zealand Sign Language Bill ” Uganda On October 8. According to the World Federation of the Deaf. joining Māori and English when the bill was passed in the New Zealand Parliament on April 6. However. Its findings included the following: . 2006. Despite this.Australia Auslan was recognised by the Australian Government as a "community language other than English" and the preferred language of the Deaf community in policy statements in 1987 and 1991. united and symbolised by fluency in Auslan." —Preamble to the Constitution of Uganda Venezuela Venezuela Sign Language was recognized in the country's constitution on November 12. 1995. making Uganda Sign Language one of the few constitutionally recognised sign languages in the world (WFD News. social life and sense of identity. the principal means of communication within the Australian Deaf Community. recognition can take various forms. This recognition does not ensure any provision of services in Auslan. one in 1988 and another in 1998.] promote the development of a sign language for the deaf. The State shall [. only four EU countries have done so: Denmark. Portugal and Sweden. April 1996). and may mean many different things. A Deaf signer (27-year-old Alex Ndeezi) was elected to parliament in 1996. XXIV (iii). “ Part 2 cl 6: New Zealand Sign Language is declared to be an official language of New Zealand.. 1991) ” New Zealand New Zealand Sign Language became the third official language of New Zealand in April 2006. Uganda's national sign language was recognised in the country's new constitution. Finland.
580 p. Akach.  Kenyan Sign Language Interpreters Association . Although deaf sign languages have emerged naturally in deaf communities alongside or among spoken languages. Report from a US volunteer visiting Kenya to work with the Deaf community through an NGO. meetings. It is therefore not a regional or minority language for the purposes of the Constitution. mosques. but it is used by all the 600 – 800. former president of the Kenya Association of the Deaf. Official blogspot with information on Kenyan Interpreters and Interpreter issues. Nairobi : KNAD 1991 . 6. which are under consideration. Demonstration of KSL CD developed by Peace Corps Volunteers working in Kenya. principles and goals of Chapter 3 which state in part that in promotion of national unity and the commitment of all citizens to the spirit of nationhood and patriotism. specifying it as one of the national and official languages to which 600. they are unrelated to spoken languages and have different grammatical structures at their core. schools. This is really a matter for linguists.KSLIA. social events and official business. however. tribe.000 deaf people throughout Kenya. Parents have the right to attend sign language courses funded by local authorities. Sahaya. There is NO debate among linguists as to whether KSL constitutes a language. Swedish Sign Language is offered as a "foreign" language in mainstream schools.Finland is one of only two EU countries that have made a constitutional commitment to the right to use sign language. Denmark offers a bilingual approach to deaf education. A working group was set up in 1996 to consider how this constitutional right should be put into practice and recommend amendments to existing legislation.000 Kenyans use in their every day lives in their homes. churches. O. in courts. This site contains lots of useful information as well as photos of the Kenyan Deaf community. Kenyan Sign Language is not used within a given part or region of Kenya. Portugal has also included a reference to its national sign language in its constitution. Kiswahili or any other of the 40 plus languages in use in Kenya. religion or gender. 1996 interview with Simeon Ogolla. Language: English. it is distinct from English." In Sweden a bill was passed in 1981 granting deaf people the right to a bilingual education. recognition of the diversity of the people and . Relevant reference articles include: Kenyan Sign Language dictionary.org HIV/AIDS education program using Kenyan Sign Language. in commerce. with Danish Sign Language as the primary language of instruction and Danish Sign Language formally part of the curriculum. Article 74 of the Portuguese Constitution makes provision to "protect and value the Portuguese Sign Language as a tool for cultural expression and as a tool of access to education and equal opportunities. In the Netherlands a Dutch Sign Language Commission was established in March 1996 to investigate how official recognition of Dutch Sign Language could be implemented. Routes to official recognition KNAD strongly believes that the government should recognize Kenyan Sign Language under the Harmonized Draft Constitution. regardless of where they live. Philemon A.000 – 800. It reported back to the government with detailed proposals. In upholding our National values. There is some debate as to whether or not KSL constitutes a language as opposed to a form of communication.
promotion of the participation of the people in public affairs and the sharing and devolution of power and ensuring full participation of women. We commend the Committee of Experts for the work they have done so far and delight in the provisions on persons with disabilities are well drafted and represent our aspirations and values and persons with disabilities living in Kenya. 5. Official languages of Parliament o The official languages of Parliament shall be Kiswahili. 6. Chapter 2 Section 9 . Braille. Tactile.Languages and Modes of Communication o o (1) The national language of the Republic is Kiswahili and Kenyan Sign Language (KSL). o (3)The State shall respect. KNAD therefore recommends that the Harmonized Draft Constitution be amended as follows: 4. social and economic life of the nation. Chapter 11 – Legislature .promotion and protection of their cultures. persons with disabilities. promote and protect the diversity of language of the people of Kenya and shall promote the development and use of indigenous languages including Kenyan Sign Language (KSL). marginalization or exclusion. (2) The official languages of the Republic are Kiswahili. Braille and Tactile for the Deaf-Blind. Chapter 6 – Section 43 -Persons living with disabilities o (d) use of Kenyan Sign Language (KSL). marginalized communities and all other citizens in the political.144. o (4) The State shall promote the development and use of Kenyan Sign Language (KSL). English and Kenyan Sign Language (KSL) and the business of Parliament may be conducted in either English or Kiswahili and Kenyan Sign Language (KSL). . Interpreters and other appropriate means of communication for persons with disabilities. and appropriate modes of communication for persons with disabilities. It is our supplication that the Committee of Experts will consider these proposals and entrench them in the constitution for the benefit of posterity to live and enjoy the liberties of our nation without barriers. Kenyan Sign Language (KSL) and English.
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