The Kenyan deaf community is set to benefit from an important piece of technological innovation by Signs media (Signs TV), a television channel that airs on sign language.
Signs TV, on 20th April, unveiled a new and Kenya’s first new mobile application that allows anybody across the world to access sign language interpretation services. An estimated 260,00 people with hearing impairements in Kenya are set to benefit from the launch of assistALL, the sign language interpretation app.
According to the chief executive officer of Signs Media, Luke Muleka, users will require Ksh 30 (0.3 USD) to access a sign language interpreter. In Kenya, there are an estimated 500 qualified sign language interpreters.
“The Interpreters are mainly located in urban areas and the high cost of the services makes them unattainable for low income and rural populations hence the need for an app such as assistALL,” said Muleka.
Maureen Mbaka, Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) in the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology (ICT), Innovation and Youth Affairs reiterated that the Government aims to create an enabling environment for people living with disabilities.
She praised the founders of the app saying it will bridge the communication gap between deaf persons and third parties in the health, higher education, judicial system, government services and finance.
“AssistALL is also creating employment opportunities for sign language interpreters who have the potential to earn a consistent income as the app brings them closer to their customer base without having to consider the logistics of travel,” Mbaka said.
Mbaka concluded by saying that the app will break many barriers that have previously prevented the deaf from accessing essential services.
“From now henceforth, doctors or nurses who do not understand sign language can diagnose illness and administer medication to people with hearing loss via the app,” she said.
A sign language interpreter plays a crucial role in the life of a deaf person. In Kenya, there are about 500 qualified sign language interpreters serving the needs of over 260,000 people with impairments. Interpreters are mainly located in urban areas and the high cost of the services make them attainable for low income and rural populations.
Due to this disparity, most people with hearing impairments are often unable to access essential services without the help of relatives or friends to communicate on their behalf.
The assistALL app which is available on android devices to facilitate the communication of deaf persons and anyone who might want to bridge any communication barriers. The app is now fully operational and can be downloaded from the google play store. And works on a per minute billing platform.