In Kenya, as in many other countries across the globe, access to content in sign languages is still a major challenge for the Deaf community. Kenyan Sign Language (KSL) is used by over half of Kenya's estimated population of 1 million deaf people. KSL is the language used by deaf and hard of hearing people in Kenya for communication.
With this backdrop, on Friday, 23rd September during the International Day of Sign Languages 2022, Akili Kids!, a free-to-air TV channel that brings learning and inspiration to children and parents by airing safe, fun, and educative content, Ubongo Kids, Africa's leading producer of kids' edutainment educational content, and eKitabu which delivers accessible digital content for inclusive and equitable quality education launched Ubongo Kids season 5 accessible in KSL at WAMA Africa (WAMA stands for Wisdom, Ability, Motivation, Access).
During the opening ceremony, Adam Sargeant, director at WAMA Africa, a social enterprise restaurant that provides training for people with and without disabilities and provides long-term employment for them said, “On our team, we have 5 Deaf team members that deliver great customer service. It’s all about inclusion for us”.
eKitabu Studio KSL Director Georgine Auma opened the launch with; “We are here not only to celebrate International Day of Sign Languages but to celebrate positive deaf identities, deaf culture, deaf history, and our collective journey against audism.”
Kaitan Mbuya, Country Representative of Ubongo, creators of Ubongo Kids remarked, "Today is a special day for all of us including the Deaf community. In Ubongo Season 5 we have introduced “Tabasamu” who is deaf, which led us to introduce sign language in our content.”
“Akili Kids! is a Kenyan media company and inclusion to us has been monthly support for sign language and the Deaf community with Ubongo content that we will broadcast for deaf children and their families every single day,” said Jesse Soleil, Akili Kids! President and co-founder.
The launch of Ubongo Kids in KSL brought together an ecosystem of over participants including the Deaf community, ministry officials, organizations for persons with disabilities, parents, teachers, students, media, and ChezaCheza, a non-profit organization that provides dance therapy to marginalized children in Nairobi.
Lucy Mbae of the Ministry of Education, Directorate of Special Needs Education, who was the keynote speaker noted: “Today marks the climax of International Week of Deaf People 2022 and we are also celebrating International Day of Sign Languages. The Ministry of Education advocates for equitable quality education for all learners with and without disabilities.”
Ubongo Kids in Kenyan Sign Language will be broadcasted on the Akili Kids! TV channel and it premiered on 23rd September 2022 at 8:00 am.