AI4KSL: Bridging Language Barrier using Artificial Intelligence for Kenyan Sign Language among Deaf Learners


Language is a basic human right. In order to express one’s feelings and exchange ideas, communication is important. Deaf learners experience language barriers as they cannot listen and express themselves using speech. They use sign language which most hearing people do not understand. Therefore, they are always excluded from day-to-day activities that involve speech. 


According to the Republic of Kenya Census report, approximately 2% (1 Million) of the estimated 50 million Kenyans are deaf. The language barrier is compounded by the few Kenyan Sign Language interpreters, most of whom are not well trained and certified, leading to misinterpretation of information. This in turn compromises the quality of education among deaf and limits their access to education, thus excluding them. A technological solution can thus help in overcoming this language barrier. 


This project seeks to develop an assistive Artificial Intelligence technology for Kenyan Sign Language (AI4KSL) that translates spoken English to Kenyan Sign Language (KSL) for deaf people with visual representation using virtual signing characters. This project will borrow from the Hamburg Notation System for Sign Languages (HamNoSys) whereby the technology will translate spoken word to HamNoSys Notation as input and convert it into SiGML notation to animated signs. 


The AI4KSL innovation will be tested on graduate teacher trainees specialising on sign language and deaf students in Kenyan learning institutions. The AI4KSL innovation will break language barriers, increase learning outputs and inclusion; improve bilingual proficiency. Overall, this will lead to high quality education, increased transition and completion rates among the deaf learners. The technology will be scaled up worldwide in deaf education.



FUNDING: $ 45, 573