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Working with the Deaf community in Cameroon

18 May, 2011
by

Sam Lutalo-Kiingi

 In February I spent a few weeks in Cameroon with Dr Goedele De Clerck, from Ghent University in Belgium. Our aim was to raise awareness in Cameroon’s Deaf community, and promote development by working in partnership with the World Federation of the Deaf’s (WFD) Human Rights and Capacity Building Training Project, and the Cameroon National Association of the Deaf (CANAD).

Goedele is a Deaf postdoctoral scholar affiliated with Ghent University. She has conducted research on Deaf empowerment in a diverse range of countries around the world for almost 10 years. Goedele has been working with the Deaf people in Cameroon since 2010, when she began an anthropological research project on emancipation processes in their community, and it was a great opportunity to be able to work with her in Cameroon.

 We observed WFD training for anthropological and linguistic research purposes, and during a workshop Goedele discussed her research findings with national and regional board members of the CANAD. Meanwhile, I talked to members of Cameroon’s Deaf community about Africa’s signed and spoken languages, and explained how Uganda can provide an effective and culturally-relevant model of community development. Overall, the workshop fostered greater awareness of linguistic and empowerment issues amongst the Cameroon Deaf community.

 

WFD trainers by Megan and Ablavi

 

Ablavi, Megan, Goedele and Sam

The visit also provided an excellent opportunity to make preparations for the Sign Language Workshop of the 7th World Congress of African Linguistics (WOCAL-7), which will take place at the University of Buea in August 2012. We are the coordinators for this pre-congress workshop, which is open to Deaf community members from Cameroon and neighbouring countries. Further information is available at http://wocal7.erinad.org/.

  We want to thank the World Federation of the Deaf and CANAD wholeheartedly for their cooperation, which has contributed substantially to our research. Both of us are dedicated to furthering the development of Cameroon’s Deaf community through supporting research on both Cameroonian Sign Language (CSL) and the community itself.

CANAD Board members participants

Sam is a staff member at Kyambogo University in Uganda, and is currently studying for a PhD in sign linguistics research student at iSLanDS. He has substantial experience and expertise in African sign languages and has coordinated development projects in several countries in Africa. Sam is a member of the Sign Language Expert Committee of the WFD.

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