Kenyan deaf population rises, cause unclear

Kenya (MNN) — For the past few months, most of Kenya’s headlines have been about the election. But a recent study shows the Kenyan deaf population is rising.

One out of every 10 Kenyans, or 10 percent of the population, reportedly has significant hearing loss. That’s up from an estimated five percent 20 years ago.

Reasons behind this trend are unknown, the study reports. But Rob Myers of DOOR International says it could simply be that Deaf awareness is growing.

“Deaf children often get hidden within communities,” Myers explains. “It’s very often the case that parents have a misunderstanding about deafness, and then they act upon that misunderstanding.

“They feel like that deaf child has a curse on them and that’s why they’re deaf. Or, the deaf child is demon-possessed; or, the village might think that the parents sinned and that’s what caused the child to be deaf.”
Reaching Kenyan Deaf for Christ
Because of misunderstandings like these, Kenyan Deaf children – who eventually become Deaf adults – have little to no access to education and employment. They’re even cut off from the most important resource of all: God’s Word.

It’s estimated that over 350 sign languages are used worldwide. None of them has a complete Bible translation.

“That group (the Deaf) desperately needs access to Scripture, they need access to training. They need access to things that many of us take for granted.”

Kenyan Deaf translators review a Scripture portion with their Consultant-In-Training (CIT). (Photo courtesy of DOOR International)

This is why DOOR International exists, says Myers. DOOR is a Deaf ministry with Bible translation and training work around the world. Five global offices hold Deaf translation teams, while Deaf church planters are spreading the Gospel in 17 nations.

DOOR’s largest translation and training center is located in Nairobi, Kenya. DOOR’s Deaf staff are also sharing sign language Scripture in Deaf schools and training Kenyan Deaf church leaders.

“For the first time they are able to teach God’s Word with confidence because they’re not trying to do it through a second language like English. They’re able to do it with resources in their heart language, Kenyan Sign Language.”

Less than two percent of the world’s 70 million Deaf people know Christ. Reaching them is a monumental task.

Will you pray?

“Bringing the Gospel to a group of people that haven’t had it for thousands of years is definitely an endeavor where we can’t be successful without prayer.”

Click here to learn more about DOOR’s work.