From Exclusion to Inclusion: Integration of Kenya Sign Language During Television Newscasts in Kenya

Alexina Nyaboke MARUCHA, Samuel NGIGI


This study aimed at analyzing media inclusion of the deaf community through Kenya Sign language during television newscasts. In 2006, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) which recommended sign language interpreters to be included in all television newscasts and Kenya ratified this convention in 2008.Consequently, sign language in television newscasts was made a requirement for all television stations, something that the media in Kenya has not been able to fully comply with, even after the taking effect of the programming code for Free-to-Air radio and television in July 2016. An evaluative approach was employed to assess the current situation in terms of what measures have been put in place to ensure the deaf are able to effectively follow television newscasts, why some television channels have not been able to incorporate sign language in their newscasts and the challenges that have been experienced by those that have incorporated sign language in their programmes. The population comprised of the media fraternity, specifically Free-to-Air television channels and the consumers of signed programmes that is the deaf from Deaf Aid International. Also, key informants from KNAD, KSLIA, CAK and Deaf Aid International were selected using the snowball and purposive sampling techniques on the basis that they were considered informative. Data collection procedure involved face to face and telephone interview schedules with a sign language interpreter where necessary, Kenya Sign language translated questionnaires and document/article reviews while data analysis was qualitative and more opinion-based than statistical. The study revealed that the incorporation of sign language interpreters in television has not been fully achieved with all the television channels having news bulletins inconsistently having a sign language interpreter inset. Out of the 18 Free-to-Air channels with news broadcasts, only 13 had a sign language interpreter inset on their screens during particular news bulletins. The main reasons as to why the process was slow were determined as financial constraints, lack of qualified interpreters, overpriced interpreter fees and lack of enough time to implement this as the media owners felt they were caught unawares, hence unable to fully provide quality service. The programming code is a good step towards ensuring the deaf have maximum access to information through television just like the hearing population.

Keywords: Kenya sign language, deaf, interpreters, newscasts

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