World Deaf Leadership
Name: Nickson O. Kakiri
Field of Study: Government/International Development
Nickson O. Kakiri, born and raised in Nyanza province in Kenya, was the first recipient of the Nippon funded World Deaf Leadership (WDL) Scholars program at Gallaudet University. He graduated in 2005 with a degree in Government with a focus in International Development. He was chair of the Kenya National Association of the Deaf (KNAD), a grassroots national organization of the Deaf advocating for the linguistic rights of Deaf Kenyans. Also prior to earning his bachelor degree at Gallaudet, he worked for six years with South Nyanza Association of the Deaf an affiliate branch of KNAD, as Secretary General. He is also co-founded Global Deaf Connection, currently based in the U.S. and owns Deaf Safaris Ltd, a tour company.
After graduating from Gallaudet, Kakiri returned home, equipped with leadership and research skills he got from the experiences he gained at Gallaudet through the WDL program, and through research study on "Development Assistances Desired by Deaf Kenyans" sponsored by the WDL. The study has been shared through presentations at various conferences around the world, including the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) congress in Spain in July 2007.
Using the results of this research study that emphasized the educational priority needs of Deaf Kenyans, he has since set up a project at the Kenya National Association of the Deaf called "Promoting Kenyan Sign Language in the field of Deaf Education," funded by the Nippon Foundation. In collaboration with the WFD, other organizations for people with disabilities, and the Kenya Deaf community, Kakiri has successfully lobbied before the Kenya Parliament for the recognition of Kenyan Sign Language as one of the country's three official languages--in addition to English and Kiswahili--as stated in Article 7(3) (b) and Article 120(1) of Kenya's constitution. As a result, Kakiri believes academic institutions will take notice and do more research in Kenyan Sign Language.
Kakiri has also conducted a survey,"How Deaf Women in Kenya View Empowerment by Education," co-presented papers on Deaf people in developing countries, and was part of the Kenya National Disability Survey team that was commissioned by Government of Kenya. He was one of the leaders who received official invitations from the Speaker of Parliament's National Assembly to submits petitions on disability reights. This has since resulted in a Disability Bill of Rights, Article 54 of the constitution.
Nickson was also a PSO Netherlands junior professional and a disability mainstream development advisor at Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO) Mongolia Disability mainstreaming effort (December 2007 to June 2009). He is pursuing a Master's degree in Development Studies at the University of Nairobi, and is interested in international law and development issues towards people with disabilities.