Promote Deaf Literacy in Nigeria

by Save the Deaf and Endangered Language Initiative Vetted since 2018 Top Ranked Effective Nonprofit
Promote Deaf Literacy in Nigeria
Promote Deaf Literacy in Nigeria
Promote Deaf Literacy in Nigeria
Promote Deaf Literacy in Nigeria
Promote Deaf Literacy in Nigeria
Promote Deaf Literacy in Nigeria
Promote Deaf Literacy in Nigeria
Promote Deaf Literacy in Nigeria
Promote Deaf Literacy in Nigeria
Promote Deaf Literacy in Nigeria
Promote Deaf Literacy in Nigeria

It’s been six months since we carried out the first stage of the Indigenous Nigerian Sign Language Documentation Project (INSLDP) which took place in Abuja and Magajingari Community, Kaduna North, Nigeria, during which time about 1000 indigenous lexical signs, expressions and short stories were collected. The signs collected are but a small portion of the communicative expressions of the indigenes of the Deaf community, meant to serve as a sample for subsequent documentations, while this initial exercise is meant to form a roadmap for subsequent documentations.

The next stage to the entire documentation of Indigenous Nigerian Sign Language Project is production of online and offline pedagogic materials of the language, while additional documentation exercises should go on in different Deaf communities, and this is equally a capital-intensive stage of the project, as it involves advocacy and intensive awareness campaigns in both Deaf and Hearing communities. This is where we are now. Despite the fact that we are yet to raise adequate funds to carry out the needed advocacy and awareness, we continue to carry on with some grassroot advocacy, including constant promotion the Indigenous Nigerian Sign Language (INSL) on social media and otherwise.

January 2019, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigerian National Association of the Deaf (NNAD), which is a very important piece of our advocacy. The national association of the Deaf will play a great role in pushing for legislature and advocating for the adoption of the pedagogic materials of the documented Indigenous Sign Language for use in the Schools for the Deaf across the country and in the families of rural communities. While we currently process the signed language videos from the first outreach for online uploading, we are set to sensitize the members of NNAD on the new formed relationship for a great synergy.

We are profoundly grateful for the supports we have got so far from our community of supporters both home and abroad, without which we would never get to where we are today. We are equally hopeful for more, because we may not get to the next stage of achievement without your supports and we may not succeed in creating language access to numerous deaf children in the rural communities in Nigeria, who are locked up in their world of limited communication and little hope for a brighter future. That is why this work is important to us. We pledge to not let down the investments we and all our supporters have made so far and the hope we have kindled so far in the lives of many deaf individuals through the little we have done. We as a team are ready to use and maximize whatever little resources we get to ensure that the job is done.


S-DELI Team and Kaduna Deaf Association
S-DELI Team and Kaduna Deaf Association

In the month of October 2018, we set out on the initial documentation of Indigenous Nigerian Sign Language towards promoting Deaf literacy and creating language access for over 75% deaf children with little or no access to signed language from birth to age 5. The documentation activity, which took place in Magajingari community, Kaduna North, Nigeria was preceded by a 2-day pre-documentation training for volunteer team members and others, which took place on the 11th and 12th of October 2018. The hands-on training included courses on the Principles and Practices of Language Documentation (Dr. Emma Asonye), Documenting the Cultural Heritage of Nigerian Deaf (Prf. Imelda Udoh), and ELAN – tool for linguistic documentation (Ms. Aniefon Daniel Akpan), plus other short talks by Mr. Onyeka Onumara (Head of Advocacy and Outreaches), Mr. Joseph Uchenna Ibe (Head of ICT) and Alhaji Suleiman Dagbo, represented by Mr. Adelani, his Vice President and Mr. Abdul Mumuni. Participants in this training program were well informed and adequately prepared for the signed language documentation exercise.

After resting on the 13th of October, the documentation team of S-DELI traveled to Magajingari Community, Kaduna North, Nigeria for the documentation exercise, which lasted for 8 days. The team of fieldwork linguists and signed language interpreters were warmly received by the deaf community in Magajingari after which they lodged at De Nevilla Hotels through the period of the documentation exercise. A large amount of signed language video was collected during this time from indigenous deaf signers of that community, most of whom were adults with little or no education. According to the chairman of Kaduna Association of the Deaf, Mr. Michael Akaka, about 500 deaf adults were estimated to be living in the Magajingari community many of whom use the indigenous Sign Language as a primary mean of community, while some are bilingual – using the indigenous Sign Language and the English Sign Language they learnt in school. There seems to be very little language acquisition among deaf children in this community as most deaf adults we recorded did not acquire signed language as children but learned from fellow deaf persons as adults, and we did not see any children fluent in the indigenous Sign Language to record. All deaf persons recorded (language consultants) were given some kind of financial incentive and they felt so blessed.

In addition to the documentation of Indigenous Sign Language from Magajingari Deaf community and the training that preceded it, we carried out a variety other related programs such as, town hall meeting in Owerri Imo State, creating awareness among the hearing community about Deaf affairs in Nigeria, School visit in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, advocating for the adoption of indigenous Sign Language for Deaf education, and one day free medical program for members of Lagos Association of the Deaf , where about 200 deaf adults were treated for high blood pressure, and eye problems and many received free eyeglasses, plus two church visits, where we spoke about the need for churches to take the lead of Deaf inclusion in our society.

Major expenses in this trip included a return flight from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Lagos Nigeria, hotel accommodations for team members in Abuja, Kaduna, Owerri, Port Harcourt and Lagos. Other expenses included the purchase of medications and other internal transportations.

Documentation Exercise Going on
Documentation Exercise Going on
Couple that received eyeglasses
Couple that received eyeglasses


Deaf Community in Kaduna
Deaf Community in Kaduna

Progress Report on the Documentation of Indigenous Nigerian Sign Language

This report presents to you the ongoing activities of Team S-DELI towards the first documentation of Indigenous Nigerian Sign Language using Tech innovation for Deaf literacy in Nigeria, which started being a reality after we graduated as GlobalGiving partners on the June 2018 Accelerator. We wish to first appreciate you all, for your great supports and donations to our project. This is a brief report because we are still at the planning stage of the first outreach which is scheduled to come in October 2018.

The planning for the first documentation outreach became real after our graduation from the June 2018 Accelerator fund raise. Outreach was scheduled to hold in Abuja and Kaduna for a period of two weeks. While the pre-documentation training will hold in Abuja, the signed language documentation exercise will take place in Kaduna. The pre-documentation will train team members and deaf individuals who will participate in the documentation project. Professors and experts in language documentation and signed language linguistics will be teaching at the program. Team members and other participants will travel from across Nigeria to attend this program, accommodation and feeding will be provided and participants will be issued a certificate of participation.

We have secured the venues for the training and the documentation exercise. Round trip International flight for the Project Leader from the United States to Nigeria has been secured plus other internal transportation. Tools and equipment for this initial documentation project have been procured, all with the funds in our hands. The deaf community to be documented in this first stage is eagerly waiting for us (as shown on the picture). As we hope to receive more funds in the subsequent fund raise opportunities, including the International Literacy Day Fund raise, we hope to take care of any needs that will arise in the course of this outreach.

In this documentation outreach, we hope to collect and annotate up to 3,500 indigenous Nigerian Sign Language lexical signs and up to 50 discourses from the deaf community in Kaduna, while the team will work for up to six hours a day. These signed language materials will later be edited and archived while we collect more sign materials from other deaf communities in the country. Details of the documentation activities will be shared with you as they come. For the meantime, we appreciate you for being part of our initial success story.

Thank you!



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Organization Information

Save the Deaf and Endangered Language Initiative

Location: Owerri - Nigeria
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @NaijaDeaf
Project Leader:
Emmanuel Asonye
Albuquerque, NM United States
$10,149 raised of $78,000 goal
96 donations
$67,851 to go
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