eKitabu and Malawi National Association of the Deaf (MANAD) Collaborate to prototype Video Storybooks in Malawian Sign Language

In Malawi, the problem of access to high-quality, accessible books in local languages for pre-primary and primary grades is particularly acute: only 10 “narrative” storybooks exist in Tumbuka, a language spoken by more than 2 million people in northern Malawi. None of those books are in accessible formats, and no materials in Malawian Sign Language (MSL) exist at all.

eKitabu has now scaled their Studio KSL innovation work to Malawi through the All Children Reading Grand Challenge for Development (ACR GCD) Begin With Books award. In June and July, 2021 eKitabu visited Malawi to support and to help Malawi National Association of the Deaf (MANAD) to produce 15 sign language video storybooks in Malawian Sign Language (MSL). 

“For quite a long time the language needs of Deaf children have been taken for granted and this resulted in deprivation of language foundation and growth. The adaptation of materials in Malawian Sign Language brought by the project is going to close this gap.  As a result, I am sure in 10 years’ time Deaf children will be better academically equipped than now’’ said Sekerani Kufakwina, MANAD.

“We are glad to have joined the ACR GCD Sign Language Storybook Cohort to follow minimum standards for sign language book production. With the support of ACR GCD, we are scaling our capacity to deliver high quality, accessible books in Malawi, while at the same time reducing the cost per book delivered to the Global Digital Library (GDL),” said Georgine Auma, eKitabu.

Through the use of hands-on examples and actual video production process, eKitabu trained MANAD team in understanding the process of quality sign language videos production giving due diligence to steps needed to achieve desired results. The training commenced in Mponela, Malawi from 26thth June to 2nd July followed by a shift of venue to Lilongwe from 2nd to 9th July for meeting with partners and sign language video editing personnel.

Objectives of the training

  • Equipt MANAD team with production skills of accessible quality sign language videos
  • Supporting editing process for prototype videos and next batch of books to be produced
  • Meet with various stakeholders in Malawi and explore potential areas of collaboration

eKitabu’s production of quality sign language videos has tremendously improved over the years since our initial debut with Studio KSL in 2018, whose prototype took close to a year. To date, we have scaled to other countries including Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and now in Malawi. To be able to produce quality sign language videos that are age-appropriate, relevant, and up to standards, requires support especially in a new country like Malawi.

While eKitabu has its own internal production guidelines, the need to make the content of these guidelines practical requires in-person engagement and support in three major aspects of production which informed our capacity building in the following three areas:

  • Pre-production – Book analysis, scripting, and team selection
  • Production – Studio setup, shooting, and audio recording 
  • Post-production – editing, audio synchronization, and delivery packages  

This product is made possible through the support of the All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development (ACR GCD) Founding Partners (the United States Agency for International Development [USAID], World Vision, and the Australian Government) in collaboration with the Global Book Alliance. It was prepared by eKitabu and does not necessarily reflect the views of the ACR GCD Founding Partners or the Global Book Alliance. Any adaptation or translation of this work should not be considered an official ACR GCD translation, and ACR GCD shall not be liable for any content or errors in this translation.