Thursday, 7 February 2013

Access to information protest march by Deaf Kenyans


seven things you should know before calling the Deaf Kenyans names for protesting on the streets...

Access2InfoDemo - Deaf and KSL Users on the streets
Kenya National Association of the Deaf demonstrated outside Nation Centre on 6th February 2013, demanding all television stations should have Kenyan sign language interpretation or without that they should insert or have closed caption/sub-title of television programming, saying Deaf and hard of hearing persons are excluded from information passed through TV, and it is their right to have access to information. reported the Nation 
The association of the deaf is holding a demonstration outside the ministry of information offices demanding 24/7 sign language interpretation inserts or closed captions on all TV stations. They will later protest outside nation center demanding NTV to obey the court order given last year. the Star reported
Access2InfoDemo - City Hall Way - before stopping at the Supreme Court
Comments and Statements from journalists, readers of online blogs and social media can be found below:


  
TV Caption NOW
Here are some of the issues that the journalists and critics did not tell you.

1. This is not the first time the issue of Sign Language interpretation on Kenyan media is being discussed. There have been debates about this since time in memorial - as long as Deaf Kenyans and Television have been there, there has always been a discussion on accessibility of information for persons who are Deaf or hard of hearing. In 2007 the then Assistant Minister for information Koigi wa Wamwere said " The Government has no powers to compel media houses to introduce sign language. However, it has written to all media houses and the Media Owners Association, asking them to introduce sign language in their television news casts....media houses moved to court in 2004 after the enforcement of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 2003, and obtained a ruling prohibiting the Government from compelling them to introduce sign language." ( The Nation Nairobi, 14 June 2007) 

This position has been overtaken by the events of the promulgation of the new constitution of Kenya 2010. In 2010, KSL was recognized in the new constitution of Kenya as an official language of the Kenyan Parliament. This language is believed to have originated in the first deaf schools, in the early 1960s in western Kenya (Okombo & Akach 1997). The constitution states the following about Kenyan Sign Language 

The Constitution of Kenya clearly recognizes KSL as a Language; 
  1. Article 120, recognizes KSL as one of the official Languages of Kenyan Parliament. 
  2. Article 54(1) (d) entitles Deaf and Hard of hearing persons to use KSL while 
  3. Article 7(3) (b) mandates the government to promote the use and development of KSL.


including all the other tenets that talk about equity, social justice, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, non-discrimination and protection of the marginalized; the use of Kenyan Sign Language is equal to the other rights - Human Rights and Rights of persons with disabilities with the limitations as  much that they are reasonable and justifiable.

Deputy PS Info, Richie, KNAD Chair at TelePosta Tower

2. There have been numerous correspondence between the Deaf Association and the ministry of information, communications commission of Kenya (CCK) and the media owners (who have ignored all letters, requests for round table talks or call/social media) There have been communications from the legal counsel representing the association of the Deaf and from Deaf individuals or groups acting on their behalf. There is even a court order on the same issue to one of the media houses (see NTV vs CRADLE) 

3. Non of the reporters will explicitly talk about this article - “Section 39 of the Persons with Disabilities Act imposes an express obligation on all persons in the position of a media house to provide access to persons with hearing disability access to the information that they impart in their television programmes,” This right is as important as the freedom of worship or owning property or using English or Kiswahili, if it takes one million signatures to call for an amendment to a clause in the constitution or call for a referendum process then Kenyan Sign Language Users are large enough to be heard and treated equally in Kenya.

at NMG tower

4. The protest was about access to public information for Deaf Kenyans/users of Kenyan Sign language. In many communities in Kenya people with disabilities are denied the right to vote and stand for election. The right to vote restricted from people without full legal capacity, yet the vast majority of people including those without verbal communication, can express an opinion with adequate support. Political disenfranchisement further increases the political invisibility of people with disabilities and their needs and concerns, and makes it easy for policy-makers to ignore their demands. 

Animated display of displeasure by SENECA Guard company refusal of entry to NMG tower

5. Kenya ratified the UN Convention on 19 May 2008. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes and secures Deaf people’s linguistic rights. The most significant achievement for Deaf people is that article 2 defines sign languages as languages, more to say, they are considered equal to spoken languages. Sign languages have complex rules of grammar and expansive vocabularies, and are comfortably capable to be used in everyday conversation, intellectual discourse, rhetoric, likewise wit, and poetry. Sign languages in each country are found to have dialects, just as spoken languages do. These rights are protected by the UN Convention by its five articles that have a direct reference to Deaf people and sign languages (See: Article 2 ; Article 9.2.e ; Article 21.b and 21.e; Article 24.3.b and 24.3.c and 24.4; Article 30.4).

getting the attention - vuvuzela, whistle, posters, flyers


6. 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 

insisting to be heard, the guards said NMG - NTV director not in...increasing agitation  

7.Telecommunication service providers should review their services with emergence of KSL. Relay, Video conferencing and Multimedia services are appealing to KSL users due to the visual nature of the language. The media especially television will need to take into account the needs to use KSL interpretation professionals for its news and programs or embrace captioning and subtitling for equal accessibility.


Responsibilities of the Deaf Citizens
Learn your language, document it, teach it and use it in pride with pride. Deaf pride will be the mantra! Organize yourselves to share the rich culture, history and language. You remain as the only true ambassadors of your communities. Use the language, teach it, record it and share it on the internet, youtube, Deaftube etc are media avenues available for you.
Mr. Politician - watch this!!!
Kenyan Sign Language has gone through a historic monumental experience over the last three decades and it is with a lot of pride that the Kenya National Association of the Deaf KNAD looks back at the legacy of our forefathers, they have struggled and some have passed on without seeing the joy or benefits of their struggle to have KSL recognized, mentioned or accepted in our country. We salute men and women who since 1987 and earlier have advocated and stood their ground in making this historical moment possible. Posterity indeed will forever be grateful to the various individuals and organizations that have supported this cause.

Congrats to Nation Media group. Nation Television Managing Director finally addressed us and listen to our issues. He promised to work with KNAD and ensure we are represented in presidential debate planning process as well as having news accessible in sign language . First engagement to start this Saturday for presidential debate preparation.

Finally Mr. Linus Kaikai emerges to speak with the protesters 

Mr. Kaikai listening to complaints from Deaf Protesters



Photo: Deaf Kenyans did wonderful job today by uniting to demand for media accessibility. Nation Television Managing Director finally addressed us and listen to our issues. He promised to work with KNAD and ensure we are represented in presidential debate planning process as well as having news accessible in sign language . First engagement to start this Saturday for presidential debate preparation. The fight is not over we must continue!

NTV'S Managing Editor Linus Kaikai (Right) addressing to demonstrators from Kenya National Association of the Deaf as they are translated in a sign language by two of their colleagues(Left and back) when they demonstrated outside Nation Centre on 6th February 2013, demanding all television stations should have Kenyan sign language interpretation or without that they should insert or have closed caption/sub-title of television programming, saying Deaf and hard of hearing persons are excluded from information passed through TV, and it is there right to have access to information. 


The Kenya National Association of the Deaf (KNAD) is a legal Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). The organization was founded and registered in 1987 with the Government of Kenya under the Societies Act of 1968 rule 4. The mission of KNAD is to advocate Human and Linguistic Rights of the Deaf Community in Kenya. KNAD membership is drawn from affiliated associations active in all the 47 Counties of Kenya.

I leave you with this message as you think about the above. President Obama's message to Kenyans (by the way on Youtube it is captioned!)


Featured post

KSL Cover Huyu Yesu by Mercy Masika & Angel Benard

When I started this blog, I wanted to address the lack of documentation of Kenyan Sign Language, Deaf Culture and History in Kenya and res...