Inspire | 2020

Signs TV

Improving the social, economic and talent development of people with disabilities through inclusive broadcasting and assistive technology

Signs TV has been broadcasting free content in sign language since 2017 with a central mission to build cultural bridges, remove barriers, eliminate stigma and create a society that allows free interaction between persons with disabilities (PWD) and non-PWDs.

Globally, more than one billion (15%) people in the world live with some form of disability, of whom nearly 200 million experience considerable difficulties functioning. PWDs experience barriers in accessing services that many of us have long taken for granted, including health, education, employment, and transport. Signs TV is dedicated to removing such barriers. This Kenyan-based initiative now reaches an estimated 500,000 deaf viewers, 1.2 million PWDs and 1.5 million individuals interested in learning Kenyan Sign Language. They employ (60%) PWDs to be hosts of programs on Signs TV, thereby putting inclusion at the forefront in the spirit of ‘leave no one behind.’

Signs TV is also playing a crucial role in the response to the global pandemic by collaborating with the government and partners to analyze the challenges faced by PWDs in light of COVID-19, while highlighting solutions, which include providing virtual interpreters in hospitals, universities and places of employment. Having analyzed the challenges posed by COVID-19, in relation to social distancing, the wearing of masks and the requirement of healthcare providers to wear PPE, the team is developing an assistALL application that will provide a virtual interpreter to people who are deaf and experiencing even higher levels of isolation due to the new COVID protective measures in hospitals, universities and workplaces. Signs TV aims to scale up their initiative by implementing it on a regional level with the team’s key focus being on working towards improving the social, economic, and talent development of PWDs through inclusive broadcasting but also through assistive technology.

Equitable development will only occur if we reach out to the last person in the queue. Persons with disabilities are too often an afterthought. We believe that they should be a forethought.