Applying a user-centered design approach in Kenya: eKitabu and Deaf-led Sign Language Video Stories
December 17, 2020
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For students with disabilities, quality education can offer an entry point into a society that may otherwise remain inaccessible. School provides students the opportunity to learn language, literacy, and numeracy skills, foster a social network, and develop marketable skills for a future career. However, numerous barriers exist that can prevent access to such education for students with disabilities. Most notably, students need accessible learning materials. This issue is often exacerbated by poverty when specialized materials and additional professional development for educators are unavailable.From USAID’s Education Links article on Medium posted on 15th December 2020

As COVID-19 cases increased, schools in Kenya shifted to distance learning, largely depending upon state-sponsored television programming in place of live classes. These programs, however, were often inaccessible to students who are deaf or hard of hearing. To address this issue, the All Children Reading Grand Challenge (a partnership of USAID, World Vision, and the Australian Government) funded eKitabu (“Book” in Swahili), a local education content organization, to produce more inclusive programming. They launched “Digital Story Time”, a 30-minute broadcast program for children and families, currently reaching more than four million households through Youtube, eKitabu’s website, and a television program run by Kenya’s Ministry of Education. Each story contains Kenyan Sign Language (KSL) produced by a Deaf-led team of native KSL users, captions in English and Kiswahili, music, audio narration, and tie-ins to online learning resources. eKitabu’s programming was developed by end users, such as deaf adults, to ensure access to early literacy for all children. eKitabu has seen such success that Digital Story Time now airs twice per day and programming is being translated and adapted for use in Rwanda.
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