Mobilising support example:
Sign language education for basic service providers

Kenyan Sign Language in an educational setting
Kenyan Sign Language training to Clinical Officers and registered nurses in Nairobi County
Kenyan Sign Language training for Senior County Government Officers of Embu County Government
OrganisationDeaf Ability Initiative


Deaf Ability Initiative decided to campaign for the training of basic service providers in Kenyan Sign Language (KSL), in order to improve the access of deaf and hard of hearing people to (government) services.

Problem analysis

Deaf Ability Initiative (DAI) believes that by training basic service providers in Kenyan Sign Language (KSL) and disability mainstreaming, they will effectively deal with the challenge of inaccessibility of basic services for the deaf and hard of hearing. Access to quality, affordable and non-discriminatory social services is meant for all, irrespective of one’s disability, race, creed and social status. The Constitution of Kenya (2010) provides that the government shall promote the use of Kenyan Sign Language in public settings for effective participation of deaf citizens. Nevertheless, rights of deaf citizens are usually violated in major public settings. For instance, participation of deaf people in mainstream society is limited due to communication barriers. Worse still, deaf citizens hardly have access to basic health care services in public health, due to communication barriers between health service providers and deaf people themselves.

Solution analysis

In response to the problem above, the action intended to enhance access to basic services for deaf and hard of hearing people. Involvement of beneficiaries and stakeholders was critical in identifying the strategies, the approach and the campaign messages for addressing the described problem. Capacity building through in-house training was discussed and eventually agreed upon, as main strategy for improving access to basic services for deaf people.
The action focused on the training of at least 20 health care service providers from each public health centre in four counties. DAI will also consider training community members and some sections of private sector workers on Kenyan Sign Language to promote accessibility of essential services, especially for marginalised deaf persons.

Stakeholder analysis

Which stakeholders (NGO’s, government, private sector) did you identify as allies and how did you involve them?
1. A number of county governments were identified: Kitui, Machakos, Mombasa and Kisumu. DAI effectively engaged with all these counties to support KSL education for their staff. Although DAI did not receive immediate funding from these counties to initiate the Kenyan Sign Language project, they pledged support starting the next financial year.
2. In Kenya, there are a number of organisations working tirelessly to ensure Kenyan Sign Language is recognised and accessibility of basic facilities for deaf and hard of hearing people enhanced. The organisations with an interest in this field are The National Council for Persons with Disabilities, Kenya National Association of the Deaf, Sign Language Resource Centre, to name but a few.

Which stakeholders did you identify as opponents and why were they opposed?
Organisations supporting speech as opposed to Kenyan Sign Language. There are some organisations which believe in the medical model of disability. They argue that sign language is not necessary for full and effective participation of deaf people.

How did you involve your beneficiaries in the stakeholder analysis/campaign?
The beneficiaries were involved in the identification of strategies and best practices for the delivery of the action. In some cases beneficiaries were among those who engaged with county government members to consider sign language training for their officials.

Short description of the organisation implementing the action/campaign

Deaf Ability Initiative (DAI) is an indigenous not for profit organisation founded in 2006 and legally registered in 2011 as a national NGO. DAI exists to enable deaf and hard of hearing people to exercise their full and true potential in order to live decently and participate in all spheres of life. DAI does this through three thematic programmes, namely Sustainable Livelihoods, Education and Training. Since its inception, the organisation has initiated a wide range of innovative actions and had great impact on the lives of key beneficiaries. Some of the innovations implemented by the organisation are 'Know your rights and responsibilities to fight poverty', 'Promote social inclusion through ensuring access to basic services and employment opportunities' and 'Enhancing access to accurate information and knowledge through digital technology & social media for deaf and hard of hearing people in Kenya'. All these innovations were funded by a local funder, also the national partner of the Change the Game Academy in Kenya: Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF). The organisation has also received financial support from the government of Kenya through the National Council for Persons with Disabilities, to implement an innovative action dubbed 'Enhancing social inclusion and access to essential services for deaf and hard of hearing people through Kenyan Sign Language education for primary service providers'.

Action period
January 2016 - to continue for the next 4 years

1. To build the capacity of 300 basic services providers on Kenyan Sign Language.
2. To conduct disability equality training to senior social service providers as a strategy for institutional capacity strengthening.
3. To promote social inclusion of people with disabilities in social settings.

Action results
1. Although all four county governments agreed to support this activity, there has been no actual support yet. DAI fully realizes that it takes time and continuous engagement to receive support, even from parties who are sympathetic towards your goals.
2. There is a remarkable change in attitude among senior social services providers, engaged in the campaign for sign language in the four counties. They see the importance of having their staff equipped with KSL knowledge. 
3. Kisumu County has employed two deaf persons as their staff.

Description of preparatory activities
1. Campaigning for the importance of KSL training for county officials.
2. Developing training materials.
3. Advocating for budget allocation for deaf specific intervention.
4. Conducting sensitisation sessions for senior officials.

Description of implementation
1. DAI held meetings with chief officers and directors of social services to advocate for the need to train their staff in KSL. Follow up meetings and calls were made and email communication exchanged.
2. Materials were collated, trainers were recruited, venues identified.
3. DAI has involved different stakeholders in their campaigns to achieve acceptable outcomes, and has made contributions to a number of ongoing legislative making processes at national and county level.

Description of time investment
Several months



Detail type

Unit description

Cost per unit

Total cost in KES

Campaign visits to county

2 staff

3 months



Disability mainstreaming training

1 session

1 session



Advocacy materials and KSL booklet

1.000 copies




Monitoring and follow up support visits

6 visits

per visit



Staff allowance

2 staff

3 months



Follow up
DAI has paid regular follow up and support visits to various county governments which pledged to support Kenyan Sign Language trainings in their respective counties. DAI is also reaching out to new counties with the purpose of conducting similar trainings in those counties.

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