UT San Diego News: Social Innovation Challenge and Isidore Niyongabo

Pitching Idea Hard Enough As Is; Try It Using Sign Language
U-T San Diego

Most of us take hearing and speaking for granted. Don’t.

It is hard enough to pitch your idea with words. Now imagine doing it in sign language.

Speaking in sign language with an interpreter, graduate student Isidore Niyongabo won $15,000 (the highest amount awarded) in the recent University of San Diego Social Innovation Challenge (SIC) for his International Deaf Education Advocacy and Leadership (IDEAL) program that addresses the issue of educating the estimated 57 million deaf people in developing countries, most of whom currently have no access to education. He also won an additional $2,500 for getting the most texted votes in Qualcomm Labs’ Audience Choice Contest.

Niyongabo’s personal story is inspirational. He grew up in Burundi in East Africa and lost his hearing at the age of 10 after suffering from spinal meningitis. Through the efforts of his father, who later, sadly, became a genocide victim, he received an education in Burundi and then came to the United States, where he graduated from San Diego State University in 2010. (Full Story