Over the years, we have learnt from our experience working with persons with disabilities, that sign language interpreters play a crucial role in the life of a person with a hearing impairment, aiding in effective communication, service delivery and service acquisition. But the supply of sign language interpreters cannot meet the current demand. In Kenya there are only 500 sign language interpreters serving the needs of over 260,000 people with hearing impairments and the interpreters are mainly located in urban areas. These services remain out of reach of low income and rural populations.
With increasingly more government and private sector efforts to drive disability inclusion in Kenya, the demand for sign language interpretation services is growing rapidly, as demonstrated by our interviews with 20 people with hearing impairments and 10 sign language interpreters.
Signs Media Kenya Limited was formed in 2011 as a social enterprise, which propagates social, economic, political and talent development of persons with disabilities as a way of eliminating stigma and discrimination. Signs Media Kenya Limited owns Signs TV – a bilingual TV station with all its programming in English/Swahili and sign language, which seeks to incorporate all persons living with disabilities to enable them to entertain, educate and inform the general public. Currently, Signs Media Kenya Limited has recently ventured into assistive innovations so as to fully accomplish its mandate of disability inclusion in all sectors of the economy in Kenya and eventually the world.
The goal of the project is to provide affordable high quality virtual on-demand sign language interpretation services to the hearing impaired, businesses and professionals through the assistALL mobile app, so as to enable them to communicate in a seamless manner when conducting their everyday business transactions. The grant funds will be used to further develop assistALL mobile app, which is currently a minimum viable product (MVP) into a final product for the market. The grant funds will also be used to create awareness, training on assistALL, as well as aquisition of customers, sign language interpreters and persons with hearing impairments.