Boosting sign language as the language of the Deaf in Tanzania


Objective and relevance ”The World around us”

The full and practical recognition of sign language as the language of the Deaf is yet the single most critical factor hindering inclusion of the Deaf people into the Tanzanian society.

Quotable Quote

Deafness is a disability of communication, just like paralysis is a disability of movement. Sign Language is not only the most productive medium of instruction for deaf learners, but it empowers and enables deaf people to fully develop personally and culturally. It is the only tool we have to fight against poverty, oppression, marginalization and inequality.”

Deafness is a unique kind of disability that affects an individual’s access to communication, rendering them unable to communicate effectively with the majority of the society members who use spoken languages. Normally, a signed language removes the communication barrier between the Deaf and Hearing communities, which in this context is Tanzanian Sign Language (TSL)

CHAVITA in partnership with Community for International Cooperation in Education Development CICED is implementing a project titledBoosting Tanzania Sign Language”, the project aims at amplifying the voices of the deaf persons in attaining social inclusion, meaningful and equal participation in social economic development through promotion of sign language and deaf rights.


The Tanzania Association of the Deaf (CHAVITA) the organization of and for the deaf in Tanzania. It is a non-governmental organization registered in 1984.  The Organization is dedicated to the advancement thousands of deaf people in the United Republic of Tanzania. CHAVITA was established to address the problems experienced by deaf people in Tanzania and to improve their access to education and their inclusion in  socio-economic, political and cultural life. Since its establishment CHAVITA is engaged in advocacy work and in sign language training as well as in other activities related to the promotion of the rights of deaf people and the enhancement of their livelihoods.

Community for International Cooperation in Education and Development, CICED was established November 2010.  CICED has, however, under the name Centre for International Cooperation in Educational Development (a centre under Danmarks Lærerhøjskole, now part of Aarhus University, CVU København & Nordsjælland, now University College UCC) 28 years of experience as a main partner to DANIDA and other major donors providing technical assistance, project management and project evaluation in education in Afghanistan, Bolivia, China, Eritrea, Ethiopia, India/Tibetans-in-Exile, Kenya, Laos, Mongolia, Nepal, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.

This online Sign Language basic communication dictionary is a key component in boosting Tanzania Sign Language as the language of the Deaf people and it strongly support deaf people’s communication with the surrounding society in general and various public authorities and other service providers in particular. In this perspective the sign language basic communication dictionary also plays a strategic role in strengthening the deaf people’s opportunities for becoming active and engaged citizens in the Tanzanian society.