Speech therapy in Kenya

Gede special needs school

Speech and language therapy volunteering in Kenya

speech and language therapy volunteer 8Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) in Kenya is very limited, and virtually unheard of outside of the capital Nairobi. We are therefore very pleased to support Emily and Paige, two inspiring young speech & language therapists who are pioneering SALT in the coastal community we support in Kenya.

Emily is from the UK and newly qualified, while Paige is from the United States and is not yet fully qualified. Neither have travelled far abroad previously, so it is even more inspiring that they are prepared to challenge themselves volunteering in the Special Needs school on the coast of Kenya, where the students have strong physical and mental disabilities, the resources are low and the teachers are unfamiliar with this type of therapy.

We all recognise the limitations of this initial placement, but we feel we are making progress towards our goals:

  1. To help make staff aware of the role speech and language therapy can play in supporting these children
  2. To make a basic assessment of the needs of the students, which will leave us better informed of the requirement for further speech and language therapy volunteers in future
  3. Provide the staff with any basic communication strategies to support individual children identified within the volunteer placement

Correspondence is typically by WhatsApp and we are sharing the first few updates from the daring duo, to give some insight to how a new unstructured might unfold and to give other speech and language therapists a developing picture of the challenge/opportunity to volunteer in Kenya.

We will add further updates as we receive them.



28th June (day 2!)


“Hi Steve,

……………….. The school staff are under the impression that we will be working on articulation. After observing the children more closely today, this is something that we definitely won’t be doing as it is evident that most of the children also have profound learning difficulties.

speech and language therapy volunteer in kenya 6We think that our time in the school will be challenging but we hope to at least raise more awareness about SLT and how communication is equally important in ensuring children are accepted by the community. At present, we don’t really feel they understand this.

We spent the day with children with hearing impairments (and learning disabilities) today and it was very interesting. It was also interesting to see what is being taught in the school.

Tomorrow, we will spent more time with those who are ‘physically impaired’ i.e. they do not have a hearing impairment. We hope that we will be able to do some more observations and informal assessments to enable us to then devise a plan.

At this stage, even raising awareness we be a success!

On a general note, we are really enjoying it here and feel very at home.

We will keep you updated when we can and will try to document as much as possible to help future SLT volunteers.

We also feel that any volunteers who know American sign language (as it is very similar to the sign language they use here) and those with specialisations in learning disability would be beneficial.

Hope to speak to you again soon!

Emily and Paige”

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29th June


“Hi Steve, update from today:

speech and language therapy volunteer in kenya 7Left alone today to work with the children with physical impairments (not sure where the teachers vanished too). Did some great work with them, read them stories which they loved and communicated with the children who could not speak and had difficulty signing using picture cards.

We used number cards to find out their ages and how many siblings they had. Also used cards to find out what activities and food they like etc. We also taught them some simple vocab and prepositions such as in, on, under.

They are all very bright and seem to have less severe learning difficulties than those with hearing impairments which is interesting. Not sure how much of what we do will continue in the school but we are planning to make up a ‘communication profile’ of some of the children including their strengths and areas of difficulty.”


6th July


“Hi Steve,

Safari was fab! We are also off to Nairobi this weekend as we wanted to visit the elephant orphanage and giraffe centre.

speech and language therapy volunteer in kenya 2

Week 2 has been going well! The teachers have showed a lot more interest in to what we have been doing and we have been working closely with two of the older boys. Next week we are hoping to make some cards for them which say things like “my name is…” as they struggle to sign their own name and cant talk.

We’ve also been giving some tips on how to teach speech/letter sounds. There have been a few challenges as we are often left alone all day with the children so we have to really think about what to do in order to fill the day (I don’t think the particular class that we are in receive much teaching).

I will send some videos we have taken to give you an idea of what we have been doing!”