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Bill to enable hearing impaired follow court sessions sponsored

 Nominated Senator Crystal Asige. She co-sponsored a bill to enable people with hearing disabilities to follow judicial proceedings. [File, Standard]

Nominated Senators Margaret Kamar (Jubilee) and Crystal Asige (ODM) have co-sponsored a bill to enable people with hearing disabilities to follow judicial proceedings.

The bill also hopes to improve learning for those with hearing disabilities in school.

They have presented the Kenya Sign Language Bill, 2023, co-sponsored before the Senate, which proposes that a person whose first or preferred language is Kenyan sign language is entitled to use Kenyan sign language where the person is a member of a court or tribunal where proceedings are done.

The bill by Kamar and Asige seeks to have the Education CS guarantee that deaf learners are trained in a method where they are able to understand and use the dominant language of instruction in the education system if it is approved in the house and signed into law.

"The Education CS will also ensure teachers of deaf students will help learners to acquire sufficient competence in the use of the English and Kiswahili languages including ensuring Kenyan sign language is taught in sign form and not written form," reads the bill.

The Bill further says a person with any disability is entitled to use Sign language, Braille, or other appropriate means of communication with public institutions having in place facilities to ensure the inclusion of deaf persons and persons who have challenges in hearing in their processes.

Kamar and Asige suggest that the CS shall ensure the development of supportive instructional materials for the education of deaf learners and set aside adequate funds for the development of educational materials for deaf learners.

 Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard]

The two Senators recommend that the Cabinet Secretary in charge of Education should ensure KSL in digital form contains an inscription in standard English as a medium of instruction and establish a scheme for the provision of KSL classes to the parents, siblings and grandparents of a child who is deaf.

"That under the scheme for the provision of the KSL, the classes will also extend to educational support for deaf learners and other persons who may serve as a guardian or primary caregiver to a child who is deaf or who have difficult in hearing," reads the bill.

The bill by Kamar and Asige suggests that the Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development (KICD) shall develop, review and approve appropriate programmes and curriculum support materials for learners who are deaf and with challenges in hearing.

KICD is required to carry out a comprehensive assessment and review of the programmes, curriculum support programmes and instructional materials for learners who are deaf In carrying out the review and assessment, the Institute shall invite and collaborate authors to submit published works relevant to the curriculum for deaf learners for purposes of inclusion as curriculum support materials.

The bill further provides that a person who wishes to provide Kenyan sign language interpretation services shall apply for registration by the Ministry responsible for matters relating to education in accordance with such criteria and procedures as may be prescribed by the Cabinet Secretary.

"The National and county governments have the responsibility to promote and encourage the use of basic Kenyan sign language among its deaf and hearing employees, set aside adequate funds for the promotion of Kenyan sign language and conduct awareness and training seminars on the use of the Kenyan sign language," reads the bill.

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