Government Orders Media Houses to Hire Full Time Sign Language Interpreters

  • The government has ordered all broadcasters to hire fulltime sign language interpreters.

    An ultimatum given by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) directed all broadcasters to have sign language interpreters in a years time.

    New rules by the CA require all media houses to ensure they have 100 percent signing during news and events of national importance as well as all emergency announcements.

    The new guidelines published through a gazette notice sought to boost information access among persons with disabilities (PWDs).

    [caption caption="Citizen TV anchor Lillian Muli hosting former gubernatorial hopeful Bishop Margaret Wanjiru on the bottom right is a sign language interpreter"][/caption]

    CA Director-General Francis Wangusi speaking on the issue stated: “The Authority shall, by subsequent Kenya Gazette notices, require licensed broadcasting service providers to comply with additional requirements necessary to make broadcasting services more accessible to PWDs, as may be prescribed from time to time.”

    Under the new orders, broadcasters will be required to insert audio descriptions when relaying emergency information and announcements of public interest.

    Within three years, the national broadcaster will be required to insert captioning in at least 60 minutes per week of other programming aired during the watershed period while commercial stations have a four-year deadline.

    Eventually, the number of captioned minutes will increase to 120 in the fifth year then 180 in the seventh year.

    Kenya’s Free to Air (FTA) television stations began implementing the Programming Code, on July 1, 2016, which created space for sign language interpreters.

    [caption caption="KTN anchor Ben Kitili during a previous bulleting on the bottom right is a sign language interpreter"][/caption]

    The law read: “An institution or body offering services to the citizens, to enable persons with disabilities to enjoy the services, SHALL avail within the institution or body devices and other equipment including the services of a qualified interpreter for the deaf and the blind…”