With increased lobbying for the rights of the minority in Kenya especially after the adoption of the 2010 constitution, the use of sign language to promote visual communication for the Deaf community has been on the rise.
In our daily routines, we sometimes meet the Deaf people in various social amenities and find it how difficult it is to understand their use of sign language.
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Such was my personal experience in 2020 when I had to look for an interpreter in order to assist a man who had hearing impairment. It was then that a colleague who had the understanding of Deaf culture, brought to light that it is advisable to always begin with capital ‘D’ (in writing the name Deaf) when writing a recommendation note or referring to people with hearing impairment.
The most popular sign language interpreter in Kenya is Citizen TV’s Youla Nzale who stole the show in a 2019 devolution conference when she perfectly knitted president Uhuru Kenyatta’s tone and mood into sign language.
With the rise in demand for sign language interpreters, many Kenyans are pursuing Kenyan Sign Language (KSL) as a short course to guarantee access to further opportunities in media and various institutions. This article will give an indepth analysis about the requirements, salaries of sign language interpreters and schools offering sign language in Kenya.
Admission Requirements for KSL
One has to meet the following requirements to study a diploma in sign language at St. Paul’s University:-
- KCSE mean grade of C- with at least a C- in English and Kiswahili.
- A certificate in Kenya Sign Language (KSL)
- A KCSE C- in KSL for a Deaf persons.
The diploma takes 1 year divided into 3 semesters and one is expected to learn about comparative linguistics, Deaf culture and ethics.
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At the Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC) one can study sign language for health care workers for a 6 month period. The short course is only offered at Murang’a and Molo campuses and the minimum admission requirement is a certificate in any course. According to their website, the tuition fees is ksh 60500.
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Salaries for sign language interpreters
In a past job advertisement by Nyeri County Government, a sign language interpreter vacancy was posted to be in job group K category with a basic monthly salary of ksh 31,000 a commuter allowance of ksh 5,000 and house allowance of ksh 12800. (Ksh 48800 gross pay).
However sign language interpreters working with NGOs and media houses definitely earn more.
Schools offering sign language
- St. Paul’s University.
- KMTC – sign language for healthcare workers at Molo and Murang’a campuses.
- Maasai Mara University, Narok.
- Rifkins Business College, Mombasa.
- COFA Institute of Technology Ongata Rongai.
- Thika Technical Training Institute.
- Machakos Teachers Training College.
- ACK Language and Orientation School, Nairobi.
- St. Joseph Technical Institute for the Deaf, Bondo.
- Kenya Institute of Special Education, Kasarani
- Sikri Technical Training Institute for The Blind and Deaf, Oyugis.
- Kenya Methodist University, Nakuru
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