MIUSA collaborated with the Kenya National Association of the Deaf (KNAD), the U.S. National Association of the Deaf (NAD), Kenyan legal experts and sign language interpreter educators to train Kenyan Deaf leaders and KSL interpreters on legislative processes and advocacy skills, and to strengthen their collaboration to advocate for passage of a KSL rights bill.
Trainings in Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa, brought together advocates from seven counties, including Kitui, Migori, Kakamega, and Nyeri. In each training, small groups of socially-distanced, mask-wearing participants engaged in interactive sessions led by local experts, including a legal drafter, and National Commissioner Washington Sati, who is himself Deaf. Participants debated and defined key legal concepts, identified gaps in existing laws, and made recommendations for each section of the proposed KSL bill.
U.S. experts congratulated Kenyan Deaf leaders and allies for this historical opportunity, in which the Deaf community and interpreters are working together to advocate for Deaf rights. NAD’s CEO and Policy Counsel, both U.S. Deaf attorneys, joining by Zoom, expressed solidarity with their Deaf Kenyan counterparts, and provided feedback and advice, and pointed to gaps in U.S. legislation as lessons from which Kenyan leaders could draw. A U.S. Sign Language Interpreter Educator highlighted the U.S. experience with certification of sign language interpreters, underscoring what has worked as well as missteps that Kenyan counterparts could learn from and avoid.
Training participants will team up to educate local community members and meet with policy makers in their own communities, equipped with talking points to respond to counterarguments, to promote support for the bill and Deaf rights. We look forward to sharing the outcomes of these activities. Stay tuned!
“I realize now that everyone, including me and other Deaf at the grassroots level, has a role to play in Deaf rights advocacy in Kenya. I know why we need a [KSL] Bill, and I know the best approaches we can take, such as meeting with legislators and training other Deaf leaders, towards achieving our goals.”
- Deaf Participant, Kisumu Training