Kenyan bankers unveils sign language app to enable financial inclusion

The Kenyan Bankers Association has launched 'Deaf eLimu Banking', a Kenyan sign language self-training tool for bankers to enable financial inclusion.

Kenyan bankers unveils sign language app to enable financial inclusion

The Kenyan Bankers Association (KBA) today launched 'Deaf eLimu Banking', a Kenyan sign language self-training tool developed in partnership with Financial Sector Deepening Trust (FSD Kenya) and software engineering firm Deaf eLimu Plus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 5 percent of the world’s population (430 million people) are living with a hearing disability, This number is envisaged to grow to over 700 million people (one in every ten people) by 2050.

Of this population, about 80 percent are people living in developing countries. In Kenya, of the 900,000 (2.2 percent) persons with disabilities, 150,000 people (16 percent) are living with hearing loss, this innovation will train bankers on how to effectively communicate with hearing impaired customers.

The Deaf eLimu Banking app features; a dictionary containing banking environment vocabulary in Kenyan Sign Language (KSL), a community that allows users to record and share their sign language videos and phrases relating to banking vocabulary.

Currently, the app has 100 phrases. For most spoken languages, the target for a beginner is 250-500 words. With 1,000 – 3,000 words you can carry on a regular conversation.

While commending the innovation, the Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, Dr Patrick Njoroge said, "barriers locking out persons living with disabilities from the financial system are rudimentary. They include negative attitude, misunderstandings by both financial institutions as well as their clients living with disabilities".

It is our responsibility to ensure that we continually put people's needs at the core of banking business. This is one of the commitments banks made through the adoption of the Banking Sector Charter. - Dr. Patrick Njoroge, CBK Governor

"The banking sector should also lead in enhancing inclusion of persons with disabilities. Let me take this opportunity to implore upon the other players in Kenya as well as in the region to follow this path. This will move us a step closer towards achieving shared prosperity for all", Dr Njoroge added.

In Africa, less than 1 percent of the clients of microfinance institutions, dedicated to serving the world’s financially excluded people, were persons with disabilities (PWDs).

Also read: How Deaf Tech Foundation is teaching programming to deaf kids in Northern Nigeria, for free

Findings from the Banking Industry Persons With Disabilities Accessibility pilot study conducted by KBA and FSD Kenya in 2020 indicated that Deaf customers were the least satisfied group of bank clients, with their main area of dissatisfaction being communication.

According to Habil Olaka, the CEO of the Kenyan Bankers Association "the culture of inclusion in the Banking industry has began as through the Deaf Elimu Banking perception has changed and banks ought to increase inclusivity of persons with permanent & temporary disabilities"