by Keith Cagle, August 2009
In March 2004 the U.S. Peace Corp invited me to provide sign language assessment training in Kenya. The purpose of this training was to establish a team to assess the sign language skills of Peace Corp volunteers who wanted to serve and work with the deaf population in Kenya. The 2004 Kenyan group for whom I provided Sign Language Proficiency Interview (SLPI) training consisted of 11 assessment team candidates.
In 2009 the U.S. Peace Corp again invited me to provide sign language assessment training, this time in both Ghana and Kenya. The U.S. Peace Corp requires re-training and re-certification every five years for language testers. In response to this request, I requested and was granted permission to have Sharon Hurley conduct the training with me.
Sharon and I provided SLPI training in Ghana from May 31 through June 3, 2009, and SLPI training in Kenya from June 7 through 10, 2009. The Ghanaian group had 11 participants, many of whom teach in Ghanaian schools for the deaf (see Picture #1). The Kenyan group had 10 participants, six of whom participated in the 2004 SLPI training (see Pictures #2). All of the 2009 Kenyan participants are interpreters and/or Kenyan Sign Language (KSL) teachers.
The Ghanaian training group uses American Sign Language (ASL) as their primary sign language and the Kenyan group uses their own Kenyan Sign Language (KSL). Sharon and I estimate that approximately 20% of KSL signs are similar to ASL signs. Both Ghanaians and Kenyans use spoken/written English as their official language. During both trainings Sharon and I used ASL, written English, and natural gestures, and with the Kenyan group we also used borrowings from KSL.
Several members of the Ghanaian group are exploring the feasibility of providing SLPI assessment services in the 13 schools for the deaf in Ghana. The Kenyan group is interested in expanding the use of SLPI to the University of Nairobi where KSL is taught.
Sharon and I are very interested in keeping in contact with both the Ghanaian and Kenyan groups in order to follow their progress and to extend support as may be helpful.
Coincidentally, Sharon and I met Brenda Lieberman Aron's deaf niece, Megan Young, in Kenya. She works for George Brown University in Toronto, Canada, and she observed Sharon’s and my 2009 Kenyan SLPI training for one afternoon. Megan stated that she sees great benefit to having diagnostic feedback for improving sign language skills, as well as a rating, both of which the SLPI can provide.
Also, Natusko Shimatoni, a former student of mine at Gardner-Webb University, wants to have SLPI training in his home country of Japan.
I hope that this summary and the photos of Sharon’s and my Kenya and Ghana SLPI training will encourage other countries to consider and contact us to train SLPI assessment teams. In addition, Sharon and I hope that that this summary and our photos will interest other SLPI Trainers in providing training in other countries, as well as the United States.
Note: I would like to express my gratitude to Sam Moss of the North Carolina School for the Deaf for creating large SLPI laminated posters and to Francie Nazloo of Central Piedmont Community College, Charlotte, North Carolina for transforming many VHS SLPI tapes to DVDs for the Kenya and Ghana SLPI training.
Picture #1: Ghana SLPI team with Sharon Hurley and Keith Cagle
From left to right:
Jeffery Gama Lobo, Peace Corp volunteer, Hamisu Wadab, Godfrey Titigah, Richard Doku, Francis Mensah, Comfort Kumah, Comfort Nabuge, Lawrenda Adiasany, Genevieve Karoah, Terri Paine-Cameron, Peace Corp volunteer, Sharon Hurley, Abraham Grushie, Joseph Darko, Keith Cagle
Picture #2: Kenya SLPI team with Sharon Hurley and Keith Cagle
From left to right:
Washington Akaranga, Vicki Adhiambo, Susan Kirima, Isabel Mugure, Josephine Kalunda, Leonida Kaula, Caro Aoko, Sharon, Hurley, Aggrey Akaranga, Jack Owiti, Joseph Ogla, Keith Cagle
Picture #3: Caro Aoko, Kenya SLPI training participant, practicing use of an SLPI rating worksheet.
Picture #4: Aggrey Akaranga and Leonida Kaula in front, Kenyan SLPI training partcipants, practicing use of an SLPI rating worksheet.