Monday, 18 August 2014

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Tribute to the Late Eunice Amolo Kasisi

"I started learning Sign Language to be able to share the Word of God and my testimony with my Deaf brethren." 

This past month of June the Kenyan Deaf community lost one of the founding members of the interpreter professions in Kenya. Eunice Amolo Kasisi passed on peacefully in her home the night of 14th June 2014. Many tributes and messages of condolence poured in from the local and international community that worked with Eunice. Her body was laid to rest 28th June 2014 in her home town of Webuye, Kenya. 

 Here is a summary tribute from her family, colleagues and friends:

When Eunice was 19, she accepted Jesus as her Savior. The same year Eunice became a Christian, her hearing church started a Deaf congregation. She became friends with the wife of the minister of the Deaf congregation. The wife was a sign language interpreter. Eunice was so touched by the first Deaf church service she attended that she felt it was the right place for her to serve the Lord.

It took one year of hours and hours spent with Deaf people for her to learn Sign Language, and another year to be able to interpret during some services. In 1990 she started working for the Deaf Church in Nairobi. She stayed for eight years. In 1998 she went back to school to learn how to be an interpreter trainer a journey that took her to Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia. She also visited Sweden and Australia as an interpreter.

During the earlier years of her interpreting career Eunice worked with various start up projects within the Deaf community in Kenya. Notably these included: Deaf Safaris, East Africa Deaf Connection later to re-brand to Global Deaf Connection – GDC that trained several deaf teachers in their cycle of success program. While working for the Peace Corps she became one of the 12 founding members of the Kenyan Sign Language Interpreters Association – KSLIA as the treasurer in the year 2000 – 2006. Eunice faithfully served the Deaf Kenyan community in various capacities as an interpreter at KSLRP, KNAD, WFD/RSESA, Deaf churches and numerous individuals - we will all miss and remember her zeal, passion and dedication.

In January of 2003, she started working at DOOR-Africa DCLTC (Deaf Christian Leadership Training Center) as the Office Manager. In 2007 she also began working as a "hearing facilitator" assisting the Deaf translation teams. In 2009 she started working full-time as a Translation Consultant-in-Training. She is very close to being the very first Kenyan Translation Consultant with a specialty in Sign Language. Eunice is survived by Charles: Husband (hearing) Children: Ian and Meagan (hearing)

2015 and beyond we will miss a friend, a colleague, an administrator, an interpreter, a trainer and a valuable member of the Deaf community in Eastern Africa. Fare thee well, Rest in Peace! 

Other tributes 

Kapansa Lizzie Kamukwamba i have known Eunice during the two years we spent in the RSRLPII. she was such a wonderful person to get along with. Eunice, u will forever live in our hearts. Rest in peace dear sister.

Christine Pillah It's was an honor to have met you personally, being part of my sister's's trully sad but it's all God's doing Rest in Heaven Eunice

Eunice Kasisi, as one of the kenyan pioneer interpreters, you have served the deaf diligently and mentored many interpreters. R.I.P colleague R.I.P.

so sad your gone forevr rest in inernal peace

May your soul rest in eternal and perfect peace. We will always remember you. At DOOR international you taught me to obey God's word.

May your soul rest in eternal peace R.I.P

May your soul rest in eternal peace R.I.P

What a lovely woman u were, RIP Eunice

It's always sad to lose a friend. My prayers of comfort go out to the family ofEunice Amollo Kasisi, someone with a heart of gold.

David Frederic Bush Eunice's heart was pure gold. She was willing to help the deaf in Nairobi no matter what the time, the cost or inconvenience. She truly had a servant's heart. Her loss will be felt by many.

R.I.P Eunice Amollo Kasisi l will always remember you as a friend, a good mother and a mentor. I pray that you are happy wherever you are. Gone too soon sister.

I knew you when the door had a seminar at sunset. Am so griefed that you are no longer with us. May the almight rest your soul in peace.

R.I.P Eunice Amollo Kasisi! May the good Lord comfort your family at this time of grief.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

How to Obtain Effective Feedback on Interpretation Assignments

We all agree that feedback from the end users is important in judging the quality of the finished product, but how does a company, an individual obtain effective feedback on the interpretation assignment?

Rarely do interpreters in Kenya go through a feedback session at least for the signed languages and mostly the freelancers. However those who are employed do go through appraisals - which are often general and are conducted annually. 

Recently, I stumbled upon a review on one of my numerous assignments and I was pleasantly surprised or was I? The criticism was about the person not the work. The criticizers tore on to my persona, even to the extent of sharing the feedback with a potential client....not that I had a problem with the sharing or the criticism - I was perturbed by the was never inclusive or I was never given the feedback directly....It got me thinking about the best way to provide a productive feedback to an interpreter so as to build them and their career.... my reviewers as often in Kenya about job appraisals were out to tear, demolish, uproot and devour the interpreter and not the interpretation - bringing down the worker not criticizing the work (end product/service) 

I have gone through appraisals, job performance evaluations for at least twelve years and received a job improvement plan once....So I know from experience what a good feedback is from a shoddy one....In one of the organization that I worked for the appraisal process was used as a tool to fire employees or settle personal scores between contractors and their consultants. If used well feedback sessions are a great tool for building employees and a personal growth tool.

How do you give good feedback on interpreter performance? work or assignments?

Here are some questions to ask about interpretations

  • Did the interpreter keep up with the speaker?
  • Did the interpreter speak whenever the speaker spoke?
  • Did the interpreter pause whenever the speaker paused or shortly after?
  • Did you hear any hesitation in the interpreter's voice?
  • Did the interpreter use any words or phrases that sounded strange to you?
  • During slide presentations, were the interpreter's words well-timed?
  • Did the interpreter miscue (mispronounce) any words/signs?
  • Did the interpreter have a pleasant, well-modulated voice?
  • Did the interpreter have a cultured voice and accent?
Remember that your end user is not a qualified interpreter and is not judging the interpretation, but only the finished product.  The fact is that the average end user of a interpreted work has no idea how to go about judging it, and usually gives an opinion based on politeness, orneriness, desire to please, or any number of other factors.

If you prefer a more systematic approach, the following questions will help you to obtain effective feedback from your end users:
Questions to ask about a interpretation:
1. Can you tell it is a interpretation?
This is the most important question to ask, as a competent interpretation never reveals that it is a interpretation.
2. Does it read like an original?
This question reinforces the previous one, as a competent interpretation reads like an original.
3. Are there any words or phrases that sound out of place?
Proper usage is the mark of a good interpretation.  An incompetent interpreter will  look words up in a dictionary; a competent interpreter will know which is the right word to use.
4. Is there anything that does not make sense?
Incompetent interpreter who do not know proper usage will often interpret a phrase word for word, which will make no sense.
5. Are there sentences that are hard to understand?
Improper usage will make the text hard to understand.
6. Are there phrases that you understand but that you would never say that way?
Again, this evaluates proper usage.
7. Are there sentences with words that seem out of order?
Word order is extremely important, not only in conveying the correct meaning, but also in giving you a text that runs smoothly.
8. Are there any grammatical mistakes?
This question is only significant when the answer is yes.  Acceptable grammar is much easier to produce than acceptable usage.
9. Are there any misspelled words? 
Again, a question that is only significant when the answer is yes.

Remember that all these will be of no use if the interpreter is not involved in this process. It is a 360 degrees - Contractor - Interpreter - Native Users form the three pronged members of the review panel with the aim of getting a good interpretation, build a better interpreter and provide quality interpretation for the consumers.

Thanks to 
Barinas for the content (edits are mine)
My mentors local and diaspora your criticism builds me
My clients - hearing and Deaf your feedback is valuable and necessary 

Saturday, 4 January 2014

What does the KSL in the KCPE Results mean?

KSL - Kenyan Sign Language

Our Constitution recognizes Kenyan Sign Language a national language at par with Kiswahili and English due to its national and cohesive attributes. Kenyan Sign Language is one of the languages of parliament and by extension the senate and county assemblies. The constitution is also very clear on the rights of Deaf Kenyans to use Kenyan Sign Language in every day life, to enjoy Deaf culture and to be free from discrimination as a linguistic minority. Articles 7 (3b); 27(4); 35 (1b); 44(1); 54 (1d); 56 (d); 120 (1)

Other references on Kenyan Sign Language


Engaging the Young Parliamentarians in Kenya Towards a more Inclusive Kenya

The Plight of Deaf Kenyans

and the opportunities to right the wrongs of Kenya's largest marginalized community

Population: Estimated 1 Million – WHO estimates 15% of the world population have disabilities. This estimates encompasses persons who are Deaf, Deaf-Blind, Hard of Hearing, a socio-linguistic cultural minority who use Kenyan Sign Language in their communications. Mostly these individuals are in urban areas but many remain hidden in their homes due to stigma and shame associated with this disability. Statistically, however there is still a large number of persons with hearing loss who go about life without identifying themselves with the larger Deaf community nor use Kenyan Sign Language in their every day life. There is a great need to have the correct number of persons who are Deaf for proper service delivery and national planning.

Historically, the Deaf people in Kenya have been left out of mainstream societal development due to their language and culture. This explains the marginalization of this minority group in the earlier history of Kenya. Missionaries, educationists and foreign volunteers saw this and working with the locals established the first schools for the Deaf in the late 1950's and early 1960's in Western, Central and Coastal regions of the country. Deaf Kenyans use Kenyan Sign Language which had it's 'formal' existence traced to the schools of the Deaf. Like elsewhere in the world, the hearing world (speaking communities) have held negative attitudes towards the deaf persons, deafness and hearing loss. Many people believed and still do that the Deaf cannot be taught, are dumb, retarded or incapable of carrying out daily activities such as reading, cooking, taking care of children or having a job or a family. Thus many of the parents on discovery that they have a Deaf child they will often go into denial, hide the child and seek medical intervention to correct the deafness or hearing loss. This often leads to frustration both for the parents and the child who will miss out on language acquisition that normally happens at this age, gets late admission into school etc Society also contributes to further marginalize the Deaf in Kenya through their lack of awareness on Deafness. Our schools are created to be Audist (hearing superior) in nature, when you look at the languages taught they emphasize on writing, listening (hearing), reading (speaking) which practically locks out the Deaf child from being part of the education system where not all teachers in the schools for the Deaf comprehending or having training in Kenyan Sign Language.

Looking forward how do we move on? There are strides we have made as a nation that puts us ahead of many nations in Sub Sahara Africa and indeed among the global community. Kenya ratified the UN Convention on Persons with Disabilities in May 2005, followed by enactment of the Persons with Disabilities Act 2005 and most recently the Constitution of Kenya 2010 have reaffirmed Kenyans commitment to form a government based on the essential values of human rights, equality, freedom, democracy, social justice and the rule of law.

With these adoptions and enactments are to naught if these laws are not implemented, enforced or exercised. This memorandum takes a look on how the Jubilee administration can and should move forward in empowering the Deaf community in Kenya to enjoy their rights, have a more productive quality life away from the shackles of oppression, stigma, discrimination and violations that have dominated their lives for hundreds of years.Here is how.....

Our Constitution recognizes Kenyan Sign Language a national language at par with Kiswahili and English due to its national and cohesive attributes. Kenyan Sign Language is one of the languages of parliament and by extension the senate and county assemblies. The constitution is also very clear on the rights of Deaf Kenyans to use Kenyan Sign Language in every day life, to enjoy Deaf culture and to be free from discrimination as a linguistic minority. Articles 7 (3b); 27(4); 35 (1b); 44(1); 54 (1d); 56 (d); 120 (1)
  1. Enactment of a Kenyan Sign Language Act – a legislation that would define the issues of deafness covering the early intervention for children, care and treatment of hearing loss; establishing a Kenyan Sign Language Institute to research, document and provide guidance on Interpreters training, employment and regulation.
  2. Recognize, promote, accept and facilitate the use of Kenyan Sign Language - the more the citizens see this happen, families and communities will follow the lead that the government has taken to use the language in public and thus liberate the Deaf Kenyans form the stigma they so often experience.
  3. Facilitate the research, development and learning of Kenyan Sign Language and the promote the linguistic identity of the Deaf community – the language currently is under-researched, documentation has been scanty with little happening in higher institutions of learning. Establishment of a Kenyan Sign Language institute would facilitate the research and learning of the language, history and culture of the Deaf Kenyans. The institute would ensure that teachers for the Deaf, interpreters and linguists are trained and deployed to the various needy institutions that require their services.
  4. Provide information intended for the general public in Kenyan Sign Language this will ensure all Deaf Kenyans can seek, receive and impart information on an equal basis with others. With the employment of professional interpreters this will be achieved.
  5. Urging and encouraging the private entities that provide services to the general public to provide information and services in Kenyan Sign Language – hospitals, schools, universities, banks, parastatals, government agencies, the police, courts etc will have provision to provide services in the language by employing Deaf Kenyans or interpreters for accessibility of their services.
  6. Encourage the mass media to make their services accessible in Kenyan Sign Language – a lot of communication and information from government is passed by the media to the general mostly in the national languages of Kenya. This should be the same for Kenyan Sign Language, have Interpreters work with the Presidential Press Office, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation and Office responsible for National Events. The National Assembly through the Research office has done the same in collaboration with KBC.
  7. Employment – affirmative action in the public service to employ qualified Deaf Kenyans to work within the public service sector.

Implementation of the above will result in the following:-
  1. Kenyan people will change their attitudes towards Kenyan Sign Language and the Deaf community, Deaf culture and deafness.
  2. Deaf people will have more or better access to information, education, political and socioeconomic activities or interactions.
  3. Deaf people will gain more confidence in the learning process, self-expression, in communicating with hearing people and in enjoying their rights.
  4. Improved quality of life for Deaf Kenyans through employment opportunities for Deaf individuals.

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