Working Together to Help Deaf Students Succeed in Kenya

The Deaf Aid Academy in Kenya helps demonstrate how public-private partnerships can empower the underserved.

Deaf Aid Equips Youth with Valuable Skills

In Kenya and East Africa, there is a critical shortage of resources and opportunities for people with physical disabilities. Deaf Aid, a Norwegian development organization, has been working hard to change that by engaging in several programs throughout Kenya that are helping deaf youth develop valuable knowledge and skills.

Deaf Aidís activities include creating a Kenyan sign language, launching an education and child development center in the Kibera slums, and, most recently, providing educational resources to help deaf students develop IT skills.

The Power of Partnerships

After learning that Cisco was working with underserved youth in Kibera, representatives from Deaf Aid met with Hital Muraj, Cisco Networking Academy manager for East Africa to discuss the possibility of establishing an academy and lab to equip deaf individuals with ICT skills.

Muraj and Deaf Aid worked together to establish a lab and the Norwegian Government supplied refurbished computers. Students and instructors from the African Advanced Level Telecommunications Institute (AFRALTI), a Cisco Networking Academy training center that supports human capacity building in the region, volunteered to help set up a wireless network at the lab. AFRALTI also provided free training for an IT Essentials instructor. The partners then recruited 50 students from underserved communities for morning and afternoon classes.

During the academy launch in December 2009, Deaf Aid petitioned local telecoms and partners to employ the students after they complete their studies. Deaf Aid is also seeking funding for a computer repair shop that will be staffed by program graduates. Out of 15 students who have graduated from the program, 11 have found internships and four have started full-time jobs.

Lessons Learned and Future Plans

The first challenge encountered after the classes began was a lack of ICT-literacy among the interpreters, which made it difficult to convey the instructorís meaning to the students. To remedy the situation, AFRALTI visited the academy to help train the interpreters.

Another challenge was inconsistency among the sign languages used by the students, and a lack of signs for certain ICT terms. To combat this challenge, Deaf Aid worked with the students to develop commonly agreed upon signs for the course. The entire process has been documented in videos.

Deaf Aid recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Education in Tanzania, and hopes to establish an academy there in the near future.

For More Information

To learn more about Deaf Aid, please visit

To learn more about AFRALTI, please visit