Monday, 23 July 2007

Kenya Country Report - by Jack Owiti. Chairman KSLIA. Presented at the 2nd WASLI Conference, Segovia, Spain. 13-15 July 2007

Since its formation KSLIA in partnership with local and international organizations has facilitated the training and certification of 20 interpreters in Kenya. KSLIA has drafted and adopted a code of ethics, continues to update its registry of interpreters, organizing interpreter trainings and forging new alliances gearing to reach its goal.

Despite the lack of funding and perceived inactivity, individual interpreters have been actively involved in the core business of providing Interpretation and informally interacting with each other. Collectively as a body of Interpreters in Kenya KSLIA has made several strides in the professional development of interpretation in Kenya. These include:-
1.       Election of officials
2.       Opening of bank account
3.       Drafting of an official Code of Ethics
4.       Participation in the two World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI) Congresses – South Africa 2004, Spain 2007
5.       Creation and Distribution of a Registry of Interpreters
6.       Participation in Interpreter Training workshops – August 2006, April 2007 and Jan 2008
7.       Official website created with information on Interpretation – regular email updates and short message services to members.
8.       Circulation of information on how to work with interpreters in various settings, settling of conflicts and complaints from consumers.
9.       Pursuing memorandums of understanding with organizations interested in developing Sign Language Interpretation in Kenya – working progress with Global Deaf Connection and Deaf Aid.
10.   Become a member of WASLI (World Association of Sign Language Interpreters) Starting July 2007

Looking forward KSLIA would like to see itself evolve from a dormant bundle of prospects to a dynamic, vibrant professional body focusing on:-
1.       The development of a Certification Process – Research, Training, Examination, Certification – Issuing and Maintenance, continuing professional development
2.       Enforcing of a strict code of conduct for the various fields of Interpretation, settling disputes and conflict resolution.
3.       Continuing Education for the professional interpreter incorporating new thinking, best practices and implementation of latest developments informed by scientific findings and evidence based programming.
For the sustainability of the programs supporting the development of Interpretation initiatives, KSLIA proposes to be the long-term avenue for this purpose. Programs and Projects will never replace the vibrant, evolving local knowledge and power broking dynamics that characterize the Deaf and Interpreter community in Kenya.

KSLIA proposes the following recommendations as the official position as far as Interpretation Field is concerned: -
1.       Recognition and elevation of KSLIA as the true voice of the Kenyan Interpreters
2.       Conducting a formative assessment to ascertain the correct situation of the interpreting profession in Kenya.
3.       Inclusion of KSLIA in forums, committee, seminars, conferences etc where Interpretation is being discussed. KSLIA to be involved as a key stakeholder.
4.       Though it is important to involve various government agencies in the formation of policy regarding interpretation or sign language, past experiences show that it is lengthy, expensive and futile to involve them without proper representation for instance if a departmental head is involved without the blessing of the superiors it is futile because they are not the ultimate decision makers.
5.       To impact policy change, there needs to be coordination of efforts. KSLIA should be the advocate of interpreter issues working hand in hand with other organizations.
6.       The key priorities at present in the Deaf and Interpreter community are:- Empowerment (role modeling, inclusion and capacity building) - Infrastructure (climate, policy, political goodwill) - Coordination of Resources (personnel, finance, priorities)
7.       KSLIA will continue to pursue relationships with like-minded organizations locally and abroad to further it’s vision for the development of interpretation profession in Kenya.
8.       KSLIA will seek dialogue to foster cooperation and team spirit however KSLIA may also seek legal redress where it feels it’s rights and constitutional mandate has been violated.
9.       KSLIA continues to seek members to join and contribute finance, expertise and man power to grow strong and vibrant as a professional body. KSLIA is therefore calling all practicing interpreters to join and pay up their membership to make KSLIA a strong professional association.
10.   KSLIA is appealing to the stakeholders in the KRITD Process to reevaluate their support, commitment and priority in light with the above statement and make policy, decisions and change laws in consideration of the legacy, history, aspirations and ambitions of the Kenyan Interpreters and the Deaf community they serve.

Our aspirations and ambition as key stakeholders and practicing Interpreters is to provide affordable professional interpretation services to the Deaf community in order to do this we demand inclusion, empowerment, comprehensive policy backing and coordination of the scarce resources available for the sustained development of the field of interpretation in Kenya.

Future Activities

On 26th of April 2007, the Global Deaf Connections, Deaf AID, KSLIA and Sign
Language Service International (SLSI) developed a survey questionnaire and conducted a mini survey with Interpreters attending a training “Theory to Practice” in Nairobi. This survey results indicated that there is need to conduct a nationwide research to ascertain:
1.       How many interpreters exist or practice in Kenya
2.       Who trained them? How long was the training?
3.       Where do they work primarily?
4.       What issues are they currently affecting their work?
5.       What new practices have they adopted to cope with the dynamics of Interpreting?
There is also a need to get views from Deaf individuals, organizations employing or working with Interpreters to learn their challenges and available lessons they have learnt and applied over their interaction with the interpreters.
Kenyan Sign Language Interpreters Association (KSLIA) proposes to establish priorities for a National Interpreter Education Center working with and through a formal network of individuals, organizations, and agencies or other recognized mechanisms for the provision of educational activities for interpreters at all skill levels.

The objectives of the project will be to:-
o   Train interpreters – Training of Trainers, Mentors and Interpreters in various fields and settings.
o   Develop and implement a national curriculum, a certification framework and a certification maintenance mechanism.
o   Develop, distribute and monitor information, education and communication materials for interpreter training
o   Develop and implementation of Interpretation standards, ethics and guidelines to strengthen the profession.
o   Ensure the maintenance of the skills of interpreters through continuing education; continuous testing and certification for quality assurance.
o   Provide opportunities for interpreters to raise their level of competence through regional networking and collaboration.
o   Strengthen capacity of interpreter associations, clubs or networks regionally, nationally

KSLIA envisions that the project which will be implemented through it’s partnership with Kenya National Association of the Deaf (KNAD) , Kenya Sign Language Research Project (KSLRP) and any other organization that has the interest in furthering the Interpretation field in Kenya.

KSLIA envisions that these activities will result in the following:-
o   People will change their attitudes towards Sign Language, Interpretation, Deafness and the Deaf community in Kenya.
o   Communication between hearing people and the Deaf will be enhanced.
o   Deaf people will have more or better access to information, education, political and socioeconomic activities or interactions.
o   Deaf Kenyans will have qualified and competent interpreters available to give interpretation services in various settings.
o   Deaf people will gain more confidence in the learning process, self-expression, in communicating with hearing people and in advocating for their rights.
o   Creation of employment opportunities for Deaf individuals as trainers, and self employment opportunities for interpreters after training.
o   Current policies such as the People with Disabilities Act 2003 will be amended to explicitly recognize the role of the interpreters in the education, information and communications access to the Deaf in Kenya.
KSLIA will constantly and consistently raise funds and enter into collaborative agreements with organizations to realize this future goal.

Submitted by KSLIA 2007 ®

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