A JKUAT library staff has successfully completed a certificate course in Kenyan Sign Language at the Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE). Lucy Wanjiku Nduati reported for the course in May 2015. Training in sign language was one of the 2014/2015 JKUAT’s performance indicators under disability mainstreaming.
The Kenya sign language is used by over half of the population of 600,000 people with hearing impairment. It is a government directive that in every government institution, there must be at least one person who can communicate with this community. There is a proposal to introduce it in schools as a third language.
Speaking of her experience in KISE, Lucy informs that she was initially intimidated by the language since it does not for example have nouns, joining words, past tense etc. “I am going home” in sign language is “Me home go”. “I want a book” would be “Me book want”. The sign language also differs from region to region making it more even more challenging. The sign language in Muranga may have variations from that in Kisumu or the Coast region. Achieving flexibility in movement of the fingers was the most challenging in her experience. The language also involves facial expression and body movement. She described the experience as exciting. She has been practicing the language with her ex course mates. She reports that she can comfortably interpret for example in a workshop situation. Since the training she has encouraged one parent of a hearing impaired child to enroll for the course.
She has expressed her gratitude to the University Management for supporting her and the Library Training Committee for approving the course. She hopes to further the training in the future.