2016 Talk Sign campaign launched

2015-12-15 06:00
Photos: supplied Shamila Surjoo, Brandin Austin and Darren Rajbal.

Photos: supplied Shamila Surjoo, Brandin Austin and Darren Rajbal.

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THE launch of the 2016 Talk Sign campaign, a KZN Blind and Deaf Society initiative, took place on 25 November at Botanical Gardens Conference Centre.

Shamila Surjoo, director of the KZN Blind and Deaf Society, said November being Disability Rights Awareness Month was the perfect time to launch Talk Sign 2016, as the campaign focuses on:

• highlighting the plight of people who are deaf in South Africa;

• encouraging as many people as possible to learn South African sign language (SASL);

• promoting SASL as the country’s 12th official language; and

• raising money through the sale of Talk Sign stickers to assist with the education and job placement of people who are deaf.

The launch, which was attended by media, corporate executives, school pupils and campaign ambassadors, also tied in with the announcement by the MEC of Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, on 3 November regarding the decision to train health personnel in sign language.

At the opening of the three-day Health Disability and Rehabilitation Summit at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital, Dhlomo said that 20 front-line workers were being trained in basic sign language and that this number would grow.

Surjoo said the move would address the lack of understanding about deafness and other disabilities.

“Disabled people have been sidelined for a long time. We see barriers in communication when our clients use healthcare services. No disabled person should have to compromise doctor-patient confidentiality by involving a third party to communicate their health needs so we are glad training has started.
“There is nothing wrong with people living with disabilities because they are just like everyone else. They must be empowered to be independent,” she said.

The 2016‘Let’s Connect Talk Sign campaign has been created to target 13 to 25-year-olds and will involve a series of memes on Instagram and a competition requiring the youth to take photos, write a motivational saying linked to the Let’s Connect theme and submit their entry.

“Our message to the youth for 2016 is - make an effort to reach out to people who are deaf. You play the same sports as them, you share the same interests, you both love beautiful images and motivational sayings. You are exactly the same, you just speak a different language so do what you need to do to communicate, connect and cement memories by learning sign language,’’ said Surjoo.

Justice Zak Yacoob, president of the KZN Blind and Deaf Society, also spoke about the interactive launch, which included singing, dancing and learning SASL.

“In this third year of the campaign, we will restore the dignity and humanity of many thousands more people who are deaf because those who take part in our campaign will sign to them and our deaf compatriots will be less lonely,’’ said Yacoob. - Supplied.

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