Boosting Sign Language as the Language of the Deaf in Tanzania

Project start-finish

01.04.2021 - 30.09.2022


482,000 DKK



About Project

Without sign language and without proper access to sign language interpretation, deaf people are excluded from most social life.

Tanzania has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and since 2010 the country has had its own very fine supplementary legislation. Unfortunately, the legislation is largely unknown outside of very narrow circles. 

The division of tasks between different authorities and levels in Tanzania’s public sector requires local authorities, corresponding to Danish regions and municipalities, to ensure compliance with both the convention and national legislation.

Studies have shown that virtually no local authorities are aware of either the convention or the relevant Tanzanian legislation. There’s no money for the job either.

This is the situation that the new CICED-CHAVITA collaboration will try to change. The whole of Tanzania cannot be turned around to work towards deaf rights in 18 months. That’s why we start with an intensive effort in the three regions: Mtwara in the south, Tanga in the north and Dodoma in the central part of the country.

The project aims to raise awareness of the rights of deaf people and in particular the need for the use of sign language and access to sign language interpretation. Deaf community organizations must be empowered to advocate and engage their members in spreading awareness and recognition of deaf rights.

New technology will be used and a ‘sign language app’ will be developed to expand the ability of deaf people to communicate with the outside world.

Before the project ends, lessons learned from the three pilot districts will be translated into a national campaign plan to promote the real right and access of deaf people to use sign language and sign language interpretation in conversation and collaboration with public authorities and Tanzanian society as a whole.


If you are not visible….

9. February 2024 Johnny Baltzersen

.... your rights and concerns are not visible either CHAVITA Chairwoman Selina Mlemba summarizes her impressions from a workshop on disability rights with a focus on employment rights. "At the workshop, I learned that we have a lot of knowledge...

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Always remember that you are special and unique

9. February 2024 Johnny Baltzersen

Happy Shujaa was born in 1998 in Moshi in northern Tanzania on the border of Kilimanjaro National Park. Deaf from birth, she attended primary school at Mwanga School for the Deaf and later at Moshi Technical Secondary School. "When I...

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Young deaf people to work in Tanzania

9. March 2023 Johnny Baltzersen

By: Johnny Baltzersen  Recently, CISU approved the reporting on our latest project with the deaf organization in Tanzania CHAVITA. The project focused on strengthening deaf people's access to sign language in communication with public authorities, employers and in social life...

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Quality sign language interpreting – for the benefit of deaf people and interpreters

9. March 2023 Johnny Baltzersen

By: Johnny Baltzersen  "It has been a great learning experience to have Ida and Emilie at the workshop here in Dar, and when we could also have Elisabeth on a zoom connection from Denmark, we are highly motivated to continue...

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Hello! Do you hear us – do you see us?

26. January 2022 Johnny Baltzersen

By: Johnny Baltzersen Tanzania has long since ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - December 13, 2007). The country has even followed up with its own...

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Party in the street for sign language

30. September 2021 Johnny Baltzersen

By: Johnny Baltzersen, CICED   From September 20-26, deaf rights were in the spotlight around the world during International Week of the Deaf. For CICED's partner in Tanzania, the deaf organization CHAVITA, it was a busy week spent strengthening the campaign...

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When stubbornness pays off

24. March 2021 Johnny Baltzersen

By: Johnny Baltzersen  Stubbornness is a wildly underrated trait. The '7 stubbornnesses' have even been researched and written about. Whether 'CICED stubbornness' is one of the seven, we can't say. But it works. In the summer of 2019, three CICED...

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Sign language interpreting bridges the gap between deaf and hearing – also in Tanzania

15. February 2021 Johnny Baltzersen

At the same time as our last newsletter landed in your inbox telling you about CICED's plans for a new project with the deaf organization/CHAVITA in Tanzania, we were online with the sign language interpreters' association/TASLI.  Better and more sign...

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The deaf in Tanzania want to be heard too

12. February 2021 Johnny Baltzersen

On the same day that we have received approval of both the report and accounts for our COVID-19 project with the deaf organization CHAVITA in Tanzania, we are ready with a new joint effort for the benefit of the deaf. ...

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COVID-19 in sign language – helping deaf people in Tanzania

7. September 2020 Johnny Baltzersen

By: Johnny Baltzersen, chair, CICED  With the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic in Tanzania, the deaf organization CHAVITA set out to ensure that the deaf community in the country had as much and as good information about COVID-19 as possible....

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COVID-19 information for the deaf community in Tanzania

13. May 2020 Johnny Baltzersen

'There is no information for the deaf regarding COVID-19. In such a crisis situation, the disabled are extra vulnerable. Is there any way you can help?'  So began an email to CICED in early April from Dickson Mveyange, Director of...

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3. April 2020 Johnny Baltzersen

An overview of general challenges and how CICED, our partners and projects are doing. By: Johnny Baltzersen, CICED, chair  While all the headlines for weeks have been about the coronavirus in our own backyard, the focus is now also on...

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The right to a language

30. August 2019 Johnny Baltzersen

By: Johnny Baltzersen, CICED  Last week saw a lot of focus on deaf people and sign language around the world. Also in Tanzania. September 23rd was the UN's International Sign Language Day, and the day heralded a week of attention...

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In a mysterious way

30. July 2019 Johnny Baltzersen

The need to pray with a deaf person was the start of a career as a sign language interpreter By: Johnny Baltzersen, CICED  The name is Jonathan Livingstone. He is one of the first sign language interpreters in Tanzania. 'It...

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