4 January 2013

Kenya: NTV Told to Have Sign Language in Newscasts

THE High Court has given Nation Television 90 days to provide a sign language interpreter in all newscasts and programmes of national importance.

Justice Cecilia Githua ruled that NTV should comply with section 39 of the Persons with Disabilities Act which was came into force in January 2010.

The Act requires that all television stations provide a sign language inset or sub-titles in all newscasts and educational programmes, and in all programmes covering events of national significance.

In her judgment, Justice Githua said that the Communication Commission of Kenya should ensure that all TV stations comply with the Act.

The Nation had argued that the state should bear the greatest responsibility in providing for the needs of vulnerable groups but the judge said that private citizens also have a role to play.

The case was brought on behalf of persons with disabilities by Cradle The Children Foundation. The NGO argued that NTV was violating the rights of deaf children the failure to comply by ignoring Section 39 of the Act which guarantees equality, equal protection and benefit of law.

Justice Githua said that Article 54(1)(c) of the Constitution also guarantees persons with disabilities reasonable access to all places, public transport and information.

"When read together with Article 2,20 and 260, Article 54(1)(c) imposes an obligation on all persons, not just the state, to ensure access by persons with disabilities to all places, public transport and information," the Judge said.

In its defence, NTV argued that there are more than 10 TV stations that had not complied with the Act and the application against them was discriminatory.

The judge ruled that the Nation could not be excused from its legal obligation just because other broadcasters that were in breach of the law.

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