Africa: Involve the deaf in ICT

By Wanjohi KabukuruFred Maina, the Academic Director of the Model Centre for Deaf Education and Training (MoCeDET), has called for the involvement of deaf and other disabled persons in the uptake of new technologies.

He made this remarks when he presented a highly illuminating paper at the just concluded Kenya National Conference on Disability Mainstreaming.

The conference which was running under the banner “Disability Mainstreaming” was held at the Kenya Cultural Centre (KCC) which is opposite the Kenya National Theatre (KNT) onHarry Thuku Road.

Mr Maina shared with the over 50 delegates drawn from government, civil society, academia and the persons with disabilities communities on MoCeDET’s technology uptake.

In his presentation “ICT Use, a Social Bridge or divide?” Maina revealed to the participants the huge role that social media has to play in literacy development.

“The role of MoCeDET as a player in the research in academic in deaf education and training since we started operating in the year 2007 was deliberate and focused towards what is now well acceptable, proven and well researched method in literacy and language development among the deaf.” says Maina.

Maina said this on the sidelines of the National Symposium where he represented the school and articulated the objectives of MoCeDET’s Sign Language Laboratory.

“MoCeDET realization of the fact that deaf education thrives in an environment that is sensitive to their language and cultural needs.  At the same time, it is imperative for the deaf community to open up and use silence positively.  Silence as a weapon against the aural communities only alienates and creates a chasm that forever divides the two very diverse and vibrant communities.”

The national symposium was organized by the Department of Culture under the Ministry of State for National Heritage, in conjunction with Model Centre for Deaf Education and Training (MoCeDET) and the Kenya National Association for the Deaf (KNAD).

The involvement of all stakeholders including parents and relatives of deaf persons is paramount so as to mainstream deaf issues to the public’s agenda.

“The issue of denial among parents and relatives of deaf persons is something we must address as it is paramount to be able to effectively serve deaf students and the entire deaf community.” Maina says,

“Relatives of the persons or children have this artificial language barrier and often misunderstand of deaf persons.  Over the years I continue to meet with parents and relatives still in denial as to the ‘problem’ of deafness.  Parents and relatives who have not accepted the fact of deafness are stumbling blocks to deaf education and mainstreaming.” Maina said.