24-hour TV station broadcasting in sign language
- Signs TV
- Signs Media Kenya Limited
- Country of Implementation
- Start Year
- First published
“Promoting the social, economic, political, and talent development of persons with disabilities through Signs TV will greatly help to reduce stigma and discrimination.” Luke Kizito Ojiambo Muleka, Founder/Managing Director, Signs TV
In 2017, Signs Media Kenya Limited, a social enterprise supporting the talent of people with disabilites in Kenya, launched a 24-hour sign language television station called Signs TV. The station broadcasts content in sign language along with spoken words and audio. Broadcasting in 14 counties of Kenya, Signs TV presents informative, educational, and entertainment content along with a focus on deaf culture and disability rights. In 2019, Signs TV has an estimated viewership of 500,000 deaf persons, 1.2 million with other disabilities and 1.5 million adults and children wanting to learn sign language.
Television content is not accessible to deaf persons in Kenya, leaving out a significant viewership population. Their social invisibility and the lack of opportunities to produce content themselves further enhances the stigma of their disability.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
Signs TV broadcasts content in sign language along with audio and voice, and was launched to produce accessible content for deaf persons and to make disability more visible in the public space in Kenya. The content covers an array of topics related to news, information, education, and entertainment, and is run by a team consisting of 60 per cent people with disabilities. The channel not only allows deaf people and people with hearing impairments to learn from the informative content, but it also provides the opportunity for friends and family members to learn sign language. By focusing on inclusive broadcasting, Signs TV has begun to influence the school system in Kenya, including working with schools to introduce sign language at an early age, and documenting inclusion projects such as those by the Kenya Institute of Special Education.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
Funding for Signs TV comes through its advertising model. Apart from its original content, it broadcasts advertisements in sign language for a fee. The organization also offers sign language interpretation services and disability-friendly productions. Replication of this model should not be challenging since it has been tried and tested in Kenya, with good results. Signs TV plans to go national in 2020 and expand to 50 other African countries by 2025. The station is working closely with the government to develop opportunities for the employment of persons with disabilities, such as an employment quota for businesses. It also aims to include more educational programming, representing various schools and students with disabilities.