The world will be celebrating International Day of Sign Languages on Friday 23 September in a bid to raise awareness around the importance of human rights amongst the deaf community.
Towards this end, Kenyan TikTok creators in particular are doing their part, playing an instrumental role in raising public awareness through their content on the platform. There are many communities on TikTok, one of the prominent ones being the instructive content community that offers simple and fun explanations, tutorials, and interpretations of codes so that others can learn and execute signing with ease.
Boniswa Sidwaba, TikTok Content Operations Manager for TikTok Africa, says that “As an all-inclusive platform, we acknowledge the importance of embracing different communities on TikTok. We remain committed to promoting the different ways in which people can teach each other about sign language and how to use this medium of communication in all spheres of life. This year’s International Day of Sign Languages serves as a catalyst for providing accessible content to our community as a whole.”
With 4 Billion views, #Signlanguage is increasingly becoming a uniting tool on TikTok as content creators publish tutorials, leverage music and lip-syncs to interpret words and emotions for deaf viewers. Boniswa explains that users have also begun recognising some of the outstanding interpreters – pointing to the rising recognition and promotion of sign language.
In light of International Day of Sign Languages, here are some of the Kenyan creators championing the use of sign language on TikTok:
Strong language foundation
@kslonlineclassesKenya Sign Language: Alphabet Chart♬ original sound – KSL Online Classes
Kslonlineclasses offers basic tutorials on alphabets, numbers and finger spelling to rope in first-time learners and enhances those seeking to refresh coding skills using daily tests that the account also resolves to offer answers. As an incentive, a certificate of participation is given to learners who have gone through the courses.
Sign Language as an art
@kingdeafrapper Freestyling rapper sign language.. #freestyle #deaf #talentotiktok #signlanguage ♬ original sound – Lal Daggy
Kingdeafrapper, a Kenyan musician believes sign language is an art and is using it to showcase and grow his rapping skills, including free-styling rap. He also uses some of his content to teach the language and links his followers to other trainers.
Making music Accessible
@mercygathaga #kenyasignlanguage🇰🇪 #kenyantiktok #deafcommunity #nathanielbasseysongs ♬ original sound – mercysity✔
Mercygathaga is helping the deaf access and enjoy different genres of music just like other people do. She analyses the songs and gives the meaning of lyrics by interpreting messages into sign language codes. She also loops everyone in by using the songs as background music for her content. View here interpretations here:
Recognising the best
@aheso_nyabuajaAdorable soul 🇰🇪🥰♬ original sound – Suu199000
Content creator, Ahesonyabuajae, celebrates one of the top Kenya TV interpreters, Youla Nzale, for the work she does in making it easy for deaf people to understand national issues. In 2019, Nzale went viral for passionately interpreting the outgoing president’s speech during a devolution conference. In the supporting soundtrack, Nyabuaji described Nzale as a superwoman.
Grasping the Codes:
@zubeidahkananu They say practice makes perfect…😃 I’m not where I want to be, but I’m getting there 👏🏾👏🏾 #LearnSignLanguage #KenyaSignLanguage #KSL ♬ Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) [Instrumental Version] – Instrumental Christian Songs, Christian Piano Music & Praise and Worship & Christian Hymns
Zubeidahkananu enjoys small wins – she is using TikTok to showcase her strides as an encouragement for others to join in on the virtual lessons. Practice makes perfect, Kananu tells her audience in a clip.