Emancipation Processes in the Ugandan Deaf Community
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Emancipation in Cameroon

Emancipation in CameroonEmancipation in Cameroon

For her first postdoctoral research project of the Research Foundation Flanders (2009-2012), Dr. Goedele De Clerck worked with the Cameroonian deaf community and the University of Buea to document the emergence and development of the community and its sign language, Cameroon Sign Language.

The project on emancipation of Cameroonian deaf people studied the historical influence of transnational interaction of development actors such as missionaries and educators importing Western dominant sign languages and also investigated the impact of the World Federation of the Deaf’s Human Rights and Capacity Building Training in West and Central Africa for board members of the Cameroonian National Association of the Deaf, which was held in Yaounde in 2011.

The research findings were presented to the community in a plenary co-presentation with Ugandan deaf scholar Sam Lutalo-Kiingi on the documentation of sign languages and deaf communities in Sub-Saharan Africa, including the Cameroonian deaf community and Cameroon Sign Language at the 7th World Congress of African Linguistics (WOCAL-7) and during the 2nd African Sign Language Workshop of the congress at the University of Buea, in Cameroon in 2012.

Cameroonian deaf community members actively participated in the discussion of issues of Cameroon Sign Language research, training, and planning, presenting a heightened sense of language awareness and ownership. The African Sign Language workshop, organized for first time in Africa, provided unique opportunities for research and information exchange among African deaf communities.

Dr. Goedele De Clerck’s study found evidence for an undocumented indigenous sign language in the Extreme North of Cameroon and interdisciplinary linguistic-anthropological cooperation with Sam Lutalo-Kiingi at Kyambogo University in Uganda was on the basis of Sam Lutalo-Kiingi’s Postdoctoral Research Project of the Endangered Languages Documentation Program (SOAS, London) on the Documentation of Extreme North Cameroon Sign Language (2013-2015).

For further information see Sam Lutalo-Kiingi and Goedele De Clerck’s article Africa’s First African Sign Language Workshop Calls Cameroon’s Deaf Community to Action in the WFD Newsletter of December 2012.