Message from the KSLIA Chair February 2015

Message from the KSLIA Chair

February 2015

KSLIA is all of us. If KSLIA fails to deliver, it is all of us who have failed to deliver because the organization is simply our agent. We are the principals and our organization simply acts on our behalf. In a democratic dispensation, the organization is only one element co-existing in a social fabric of many varied organizations.

Members of an organization should share in the responsibility of joining with others to shape the future of the organization. As KSLIA members, we must take responsibility for the fate of our organization, in the end we will rejoice when we take the organization to the next level and achieve the progress that our hearts yearn for. This is what KSLIA leadership has endeavored to do together with those who mean well for the profession.

Therefore KSLIA office bearers act for the interests of the organization and not for personal interests. Where personal interests exist, the organizations’ interests must always carry the day. The current office bearers have therefore always acted for the interest of the organization. Some may not be pleased especially if they want to have their way. BUT anyone in our position would always do what the office demands i.e doing what is right to ensure the organizations’ interests always prevail.

Consequently, as an office, we may have rubbed some interpreters the wrong way as we execute our mandate BUT let it be clear to all of you that it is nothing personal. It is what the position we are in demands. It requires us to EXECUTE OUR MANDATE even when it doesn’t please everyone as long, as it is the right thing to do. This we will continue to do without fear or favour for the benefit of us all for it is the only way we can achieve the progress we yearn for.


God Bless you all

KSLIA National Chairperson

What is KSLIA?

My photo
Central Business District, Nairobi, Kenya
KSLIA continues to support the establishment of a training program and a certification process for it's membership. KSLIA envisions its role in a three pronged approach - the three C's - Certification of members, Continuing education for the practicing Interpreters and Conflict resolution through enforcement of the Code of Ethics.

Kenyan Interpreters

Kenyan Interpreters
KSLIA Members we appreciates you! every member is valuable. KSLIA endeavors to serve you and listen, for membership and welfare contact us here : KSLIA Membership and Welfare -

Friday, March 20, 2015

Why KSLIA – Looking Back, 2015 and Beyond

When we founded KSLIA in September of 2000 the twenty people present on that day represented the face of interpreting then. We were both young and old, novice and pros, we were male and female, black and white and we agreed that the association would look at the following issues. For the past 14 fourteen years we have barely touched on the fundamental mandate of the association. I would like to take a moment and look back at where we have come from, where we are and where we ought to be as an association.

Talking to many interpreters in Nairobi and elsewhere there is an apparent lack of understanding of the reason why KSLIA was formed, its mandate and objectives. This has resulted in KSLIA having fewer members, near zero activities and no secretariat. The apathy is reasonable for there are several contributing factors. The successive change of office bearers and lack of continuity could be an attributing factor – while it is a good thing to have new leadership, it is disastrous when you have successive regime lacking the vision or continuity of the former. This could be the curse of membership organizations while it provides for the sovereign will of the people it also allows for dictatorial and self seeking individuals to manipulate their way into leadership through short lived popularity, promise of a better tomorrow and often inactivity.

Between the year 2000 and 2006 KSLIA infant years saw a core group of leaders emerge and spearhead the push for recognition of Kenyan Sign Language. The founding members found themselves useful in this direction working with the Kenya National Association of the Deaf (KNAD) which was by then struggling to stand, suffocating in the murky froth of mismanagement, blurred vision and mixed up priorities the same curses of membership organizations. Despite the setbacks there was still little success – the Constitution Review Commissions provided a disability caucus that saw KNAD have a permanent voice through the Chairman and the representatives of women and affiliate branches.

Many of the interpreters grew in their work both in numbers and in fields of service. Much of the training of interpreters remained at the 844 complex, quasi association with the deaf and deaf organizations. Prior to these there was a series of regional training and workshops. Then KNAD temporarily closed shop due to lack of funds and frustrations with the funding agencies – Swedish SHIA. This did not dampen the push for language recognition. You may be asking why was language recognition such an important thing? Well, for Deaf communities to be liberated, governments and communities must recognize and accept Signed Languages as part of the social political and economic medium of information sharing and communication. World Federation of the Deaf says this about National Signed Languages “......State parties (national governments) should make their laws that allow for theRecognizing and promoting the use of sign ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise the right to freedom of expression and opinion, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas on an equal basis with others and through all forms of communication of their choice....”

The long and short of those five or six years was it laid the foundation for the insertion of the words Kenyan Sign Language in the constitution – both the Bomas, Kilifi and Wako drafts. The emergence of the Deaf Aid white paper – that claimed in part that there was shortage of interpreters in Kenya woke KSLIA into action with meetings, elections, workshops and training of more interpreters in collaboration with Global Deaf Connections. These training created a movement that sort to raise the standards of interpretation services. The years following 2007, 08, 09 saw the association conduct several workshops culminating in the first and second National Interpreters Forums – the reports are available, these were indeed golden moments.

Comes 2010 and the Kenyan government endorses and adapts the new constitution. Many things begin to change. First, Kenyans Sign Language becomes an academic and exam subject in Kenyan schools – primary and secondary – the clarity, appropriateness and cultural relevance aside – it is a great step and achievement for the Deaf in Kenya and the rest of Africa. Secondly, the Constitution of Kenya recognizes KSL as one of the language the government would promote the development and use of, it also sets it as one of the languages of the bicameral parliament. This is an achievement many enjoy without the cognizance that KSLIA or the members that makes it were in the driving seat of making this dream a reality, of course we would not have achieved it without the presence, counsel and contribution of the Deaf community – KNAD.

Four years later the little gains seems to be forgotten. Many interpreters now enjoy the opportunities presented with the decades of successful advocacy. We now have many interpreters employed by the universities, media houses, local NGOs, private businesses and government agencies....much more is that many Deaf Kenyans have found opportunities to earn livelihoods. Amidst this budding success, there are turncoats spoiling the party. The sourpuss selfseeking and ignorant idiots are chipping away at the success. The monkey now judges the trees, there is little regard to KNAD nor KSLIA, there are various opportunities and sources of little monies and the facilitators of communication looks down upon the client and asks questions like – who is KNAD? Why should we consult KNAD? We are independent, there are many deaf organizations out there why should we look to one? KSLIA has no mandate to regulate, discipline or criticize an interpreter so they say-- I am bowed in shame as I listen and see reckless statements coming from various interpreters both novice and experienced. Maybe it is time we restate and affirm the core mandate of KSLIA so that all and sundry will know what they are and begin to appreciate the reasons we established it.

As a founding chair and long serving member of KSLIA, I will en-devour to endear you to KSLIA by answering the following questions candidly and objectively as possible. Hoping that by the end I will have convinced you to be associated with KSLIA just as a member or as an agent of change for the KSLIA we want for 2015 and beyond.

  1. To secure official recognition by the Government of S.L Interpreters profession
The number one mandate for KSLIA is to seek recognition by government. This is only achievable by the legal framework which most professions have. If you think of doctors, lawyers, teachers, secretaries or accountants there is a law that governs the training, certification, remuneration and business ethics. KSLIA has a window of opportunity with the following legal framework avenues available in 2015 and beyond.
Firstly there is amendments to the Persons with Disabilities Act – this act talks of interpretation services but does not define who an interpreter is, what they do or how to train them. Secondly there is the Language Policy law that the implementation schedule alludes to. Herein is the golden most opportunity to define interpretation/translation professions as central to languages. Thirdly the open door exists in creation of a separate law – KSL Bill I have called it so in my earlier article “Beyond Recognition of KSL 2014” Prosperity will judge us harshly if we squandered these opportunities.Why should I as an interpreter be excited to be affiliated with KSLIA? This task is huge to be left for a few people to manage, it behooves us to join hands and make it happen.

  1. Encourage and promote initiatives in improving the standards of SL interpreting and interpreter training and pay scale of interpreters depending with their level and skills of interpretation through certification.
With a legal frame certification, pay scales and standards will automatically be regularized. The initiatives here would include working with academic institutions, consumer organizations and professional associations.

  1. Cooperation with other recognized bodies concerned in the welfare of the deaf and in provision of S.L Interpreters throughout the world.
KSLIA need to revitalize its relationship with KNAD. Globally it needs to be members of WASLI, WFD and other regional bodies. There is budding interpreter communities in Ethiopia, Uganda and South Africa that KSLIA could affiliate with and join with.

  1. Awareness creation on Deafness and SL. Interpreters through publication of information materials
Apart from this blog, a few academic papers there is still a lot of documentation that is needed. KSLIA need more scholars, writers and researchers who will place it on the global map. The avenues are numerous with the advent of social media.

  1. To collect and raise funds for the achievement of goals and objectives through membership fee, subscription, contribution, gifts or donations, commissions and payments, fund raising whether in money or otherwise from both members and non members.
The five technical working groups – membership, training, systems, fundraising and publicity need to be nurtured and supported through an office with staff, volunteers and leaders. The only way to support this is to recruit members both hearing and deaf interpreters – yes deaf interpreters it is the only way to create the bridge between the Deaf and the interpreters world. Why should I pay my membership? It will help KSLIA be able to achieve the objectives above.
  1. To maintain and administer a register of S.L Interpreters in Kenya.
The key to the success of this lies in the implementation of the legal framework that would establish a registry. With an education system that teaches the craft, a certification system it would be easy to list all those who qualify to be interpreters and thus administering a register would be possible.

What is the mandate of KSLIA? As enumerated above, the mandate is very clear and offers us a starting point, to build a professional association it is incumbent on us to ask why does KSLIA exist? What is my role as an interpreter in Kenya in 2015? This club is nothing without you, by you and you alone can it grow. There are open opportunities to join as a student interpreter, a practicing interpreter – the membership fee is very affordable.

KSLIA salutes all past and present members who have sacrificed their time and energy to make the association work. It will one day pay and show, it might seem a bleak future with all the uncertainties and confusions – there is a ray of hope and light at the end of the tunnel – there are many new people joining the profession, many learning institutions are interested in employing interpreters and government is eager than before to provide access to information to its citizens. We are at the verge of a great time....we stand to gain much in fulfilling the mandate of this association.

Currently KSLIA needs volunteers to work in the five technical working groups or committees it requires lawyers, fundraising professionals, PR gurus, managers, trainers etc the list is endless. How do I benefit as a member? Well the benefits are not much remuneration wise, however you stand the golden opportunity to impact a growing profession in many different ways and build your professional resume. The networking opportunities both locally and internationally are immense, let one and all unite build this KSLIA together!

Article by Jack Owiti, March 2015. Author is a Former Chairperson KSLIA 2006 - 2009. Interpreter, Translator and Sign Linguistics Scholar based in Nairobi, Kenya

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

WASLI 2015 Conference Updates

Applications for Interpreters and Emerging Countries delegates are now closed. WASLI 2015 is still calling for sponsors and volunteers – please see the relevant forms throughout the website and on the right sidebar.
wasli conference logoAt this Conference, we encourage the sharing of ideas for collaboration across countries, cultures, and languages from consumers, practitioners, educators, and researchers. WASLI 2015 will be held in Istanbul, Turkey from 22-25 July 2015.

Visit Here to learn more!

Friday, August 23, 2013

List of KSLIA Officials 2000 - 2013

KSLIA Officials 2012 - Present
Chair - Leonida Tausi Kaula
V.Chair - Jack Owiti (elected) 
                Douglas Okeya **Acting/interim Vice Chair
Secretary - Gideon Mbogo
V. Sec. - Monica Nyambura
Treasurer - William Sila

Regional Representatives
Deaf Representatives

KSLIA Officials 2009 - 2012
Chair - Susan Mugwe
Secretary - Aggrey Akaranga
Treasurer - Monica Nyambura 

Regional Representatives
Nairobi/Central Region - Jack Owiti
Western/Nyanza Region - Simon Angira
Coast Region - Witness Tsuma
Deaf Representatives 
Washington Akaranga
Elizabeth Khamala

KSLIA Officials 2006 - 2009
Chair – Jack Owiti
Secretary – Mary Njoki
Treasurer – the Late Eunice Kasisi (RIP)
Regional Representatives
Western Region – Simon Angira
Central Region – David Agondwa
Coast Region – the Late Elizabeth Mwamburi (RIP)
Nairobi Region – Victoria Adhiambo
Deaf Representatives -- 
Washington Akaranga - KSL Training
Elizabeth Khamala - Deaf Blind
Jefwa Mweri – spokesperson for the association

KSLIA Founding Officials - Technical Working Group 2000 - 2006
Simon Angira, Mary Njoki, Catherine Wambui, Leonida Kaula, Eunice Kasisi (RIP), Aggrey Akaranga, Susan Mugwe, Jack Owiti, Victoria Adhiambo, Isabel Mugure, Lucy Atieno, Nancy Odipo, Washington Akaranga, Jared Osome, Enock Ombok - assisted by RPCVs Kevin, Trish, Cate, PCrume, MJ - PCK convening the Naivasha meeting in September of 2000. 

Source KSLIA minutes, eye witness accounts and historical records. KSLIA (R) (C) 2013

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Naivasha Declaration: KSLIA Formation and Development #KSLIA2013

Down memory lane.....

The Peace Corps program relied heavily on interpreters to carryout it’s pre service training, which was offered mainly in English with Kiswahili and other local languages taught depending on the regional distribution of the volunteers. Interpreters where needed to facilitate the communication between the instructors and the Deaf volunteers. Due to lack of professional interpreters in Kenya the Peace Corps program invested in one or two interpreters from the US to work with the local interpreters to build their capacity and later be able to give better interpretation services to the Deaf volunteers. In 1999 there was a strong group of Deaf volunteers who advocated for funding to fund activities to build the capacity of local interpreters. This group of volunteers lobbied and finally secured funding to conduct a one-week workshop for the local interpreters. There were 15 interpreters who attended the training.

September 2000 during the one week workshop sponsored by the Peace Corps, the Kenyan Interpreters were challenged to form an association that would be responsible for three things – First be a social outlet for interpreters to meet and interact informally,secondly it was to be a place for correcting way ward interpreters enforcing a mutually agreed code of ethics and finally an avenue for continued professional development through peer education and role modeling. In the months following this there were a series of meetings dedicated to the formation of a Kenyan Interpreters Association. These meetings focused in the drafting of the constitution, code of ethics and contact list of available or practicing interpreters countrywide. These processes and the outcome of the one week training and late night meetings are what become to be known in Kenyan Interpreter community as the Naivasha declaration

The Naivasha Declaration states that: -

We the Kenyan Interpreters practicing in various fields agree to: -

a) To secure official recognition by the Government of Interpreters profession

b) Encourage and promote initiatives in improving the standards of SL interpreting and interpreter training and pay scale of interpreters depending with their level and skills of interpretation through certification.

c) Cooperation with other recognized bodies concerned in the welfare of the deaf and in provision of Interpreters throughout the world.

d) Awareness creation on Deafness and SL. Interpreters through publication of information materials

e) To collect and raise funds for the achievement of goals and objectives through membership fee, subscription, contribution, gifts or donations, commissions and payments, fund raising whether in money or otherwise from both members and non members.

f) To maintain and administer a register of S.L Interpreters in Kenya.

These later become the objectives of the Kenyan Sign Language Association, which was registered in December of 2000 under the Societies Act.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Polite Reminder

Feb 25 2012 at KNAD Offices on Twiga Towers off Murang’a Road from 10AM - 12Noon

All are welcome.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Dear Interpreter,

In accordance with the KSLIA constitution articles on Annual General Meetings and Special Meeting Clauses, that gives concerned members the mandate to call for and conduct a meeting on issues concerning the association, we being concerned members and as an official of KSLIA hereby call for a Special Annual General Meeting in the next 21 days starting from the date of this letter.

The meeting will take place on Feb 24 2012 at KNAD Offices on Twiga Towers off Murang’a Road from 10AM - 12Noon the agenda for the meeting will be as follows:

1. Review of previous period from last AGM to date

2. Election of officials

3. KSLIA future – opportunities 2012

4. KSLIA – KNAD cooperation

5. AOB

Please confirm your attendance by leaving a comment below.


Founding Chair and Liaisons Officer

KSLIA – Restructuring Committee

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Notice for KSLIA Annual General Meeting to be held on 21st March 2009

Notice for KSLIA Annual General Meeting to be held on 21st March 2009

Dear Members/Stakeholders,

Notice hereby given for the meeting above. The meeting will be held at KSLRP offices at UoN Nairobi at 9am the agenda for this meeting are:-

1. Progress review 2008
2. Emerging issues and challenges
3. Ratification of the Code of Ethics/Standard business procedures/practice
4. WASLI Africa Rep update
5. Election of office bearers
6. 2009 plans

Please confirm you participation for the above meeting by sending and email or sms to the chair.


at your service.

Jack Owiti,
Chairman, KSLIA.
Kenyan Sign Language Interpreters Association,
Working towards quality standards in Sign Language Interpretation.
************************************************************************************ -The e-forum for Kenyan Interpreters!


This is the official KSLIA blog. It is a forum for information exchange and notice board for all interpreters working in Kenya. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information, links and articles are accurate and verified however KSLIA does not gurantee the correctness of the views expressed below esp. comments or personal views. KSLIA however appreciates any comments, suggestions and questions about it's activities in Kenya, Sign language, Deaf Culture and Interpreting. These can be forwarded to the KSLIA secretariat for further action. KSLIA (c) 2015.