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Collaborative Change Research: A Case of Kenyan Signed Language Interpreters

by Nickson Kakiri, Leonida Kaula & Elizabeth Jean-Baptiste

Presentation

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Collaborative Change research approaches and methodologies, such as Action Research, Community-Based Participatory Research, Participatory Action Research, Collective Impact, Design Thinking, Human-Centered Design, and Citizen Science, have garnered more attention in recent years. They seek to investigate complex social problems through intentional involvement of the stakeholders at all levels, but particularly centering the research process on the individuals who are most severely impacted. Basing research in communities, instead of on them, fosters better outcomes in knowledge creation, problem-solving, and sustainable action.

The Kenya National Association of the Deaf (KNAD) and Kenyan Sign Language Interpreter’s Association (KSLIA) have been witness to significant societal changes for its Deaf communities and interpreting profession before, but especially since, the recognition of Kenyan Sign Language as the national language of Deaf Kenyans in the 2010 National Constitution. While Deaf persons are exercising their rights to language access in venues not previously available to them, their interpreters are working diligently to improve their practice with minimal education and professional development opportunities.

In late 2018, KNAD and KSLIA came together to create two action plans – one to address legal avenues for creating, implementing, and enforcing qualifications for interpreters to practice – the other to address education avenues for preparing interpreters to perform quality services. Presenters will discuss the processes they’ve adopted to leverage local expertise and identifying complex answers to complex issues. They will provide an overview of the context specific to Kenya and share the process, progress, and products of their work together. As a potential model for other emerging interpreting professional communities, specific attention will be given to success indicators and challenges of the process.

Presenters will engage participants in a discussion generating activity to create and identify best practices in conducting research within communities with a collaborative approach.

Participants will be able to:

  • Identify defining characteristics of the interpreting profession and Deaf communities in the Kenyan context.
  • Define “Collaborative Change Research”, including the principles that guide this type of work.
  • Locate key resources utilized throughout this project, including literature, statistics, activities, evaluation, and dissemination of information.
  • Articulate the process of the project from inception to current status, including projections to the future.
  • View products as a result of this project.
  • Describe the successes and challenges of implementing collaborative change research in Kenya.
  • Identify and discuss best practices for conducting collaborative research.
  • Engage in small group discussions about how to implement these practices in their individual communities.

A black man with a bald head looks straight at camera in front of white backgroundNickson O. Kakiri, the first recipient of the World Deaf Leadership (WDL) Scholarship, hold Bachelor degree in Government with a focus in International Development Gallaudet University and Master’s Degree in Development Studies University of Nairobi. President of the Kenya National Association of the Deaf (KNAD),Member Karen Technical Institute for the Deaf Board of Management and an advisory council member at Uraia Trust. Has conducted research and presented papers on Deaf people in developing countries, and Kenya National Disability Survey by Government of Kenya. Co-authored a chapter in “Deaf around the world: Impact of Language” Oxford University Press 2011 Through partnership with Persons with Disabilities and the Deaf community, Kakiri lobbied for the recognition of Kenyan Sign Language as official language of Kenya. Kakiri was Disability mainstreaming advisor in Mongolia and World Bank Consultant. Kakiri is interested in international law and development issues with passion to give back to the society.

A brown-skinned woman with short black curly hair looks straight at the camera in front of a white background.Leonida Kaula has been interpreting for over 20 years and is the current President of the Kenya Sign Language Interpreters Association. She holds a Master’s degree in interpretation from the University of Nairobi and is currently enrolled in a PHD at the same university. Her experience involves interpreting in a variety of settings including education, conferences, workshops and government. She has been interpreting the Parliament of Kenya proceedings on the national broadcasting system for nine years.

Ms. Kaula has been a lecturer at St. Paul’s University and within the Kenya Sign Language Research Project at the University of Nairobi. As co-owner of the Center for Sign Language Interpreting Services (CESLIS), she has created a wealth of professional development initiatives, such as themed training sessions, mentoring, and awareness events, for the improvement of interpreting services in Kenya.

A white woman with short blond hair smiles at camera wearing a grey t-shirt covered by a magenta cardigan in front of a light purple backgroundElizabeth Jean-Baptiste, Associate Professor at the University of Cincinnati, is a RID Certified interpreter since and interpreter educator. She has more than ten years of overseas experience, as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya and Zambia, professor at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, Fellow with Discovering Deaf Worlds in the Philippines, and as a consultant to the Kenyan National Association of the Deaf and Kenyan Signed Language Interpreter’s Association.

She has a Bachelor’s degree in Sign Language Interpreting and Master’s degree in Adult Education and Administrative Leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Education and Community-Based Action Research at the University of Cincinnati. Her research areas of interest include collaborative change research, critical pedagogies, and relational teaching and learning. Other academic pursuits focus on teaching critical thinking skills, ethical decision-making, closing the school-to-work gap, and cross-training of spoken and signed language interpreters.