Call for Sign Language to be recognised as SA's 12th language

2017-03-06 20:35
Members of the deaf community with CRL chair, Commissioners and Sello Maake-KaNcube. (Nation Nyoka, News24)

Members of the deaf community with CRL chair, Commissioners and Sello Maake-KaNcube. (Nation Nyoka, News24)

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Johannesburg – The South African National Deaf Association (SANDA) is lobbying for the inclusion of Sign Language as the 12th official language.

On Monday, a protection body for religion, linguistics and culture rights, signed a memorandum of understanding with SANDA at the launch of the South African Sign Language Campaign in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

"I wish our government could look into ways to elevate the lives of deaf people. Universities should be flooded with interpreters, so when deaf people have to go to University, they don’t have to think twice. Most Universities are not providing that service," said actor Sello Maake Ka-Ncube.

Maake Ka-Ncube, who was representing the Sello Maake Ka-Ncube Foundation, said that he only realised how difficult tertiary education was for deaf people when his daughter started attending a tertiary institution.

He broke down as he told the story of how he realised his daughter was deaf.

"She’s been a star in my life. She may not even know how," he said through tears.

Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, chairperson of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL), said she hoped to work closely with Maake Ka-Ncube, and various deaf communities, in the campaign to champion their rights and get Sign Language recognised as a 12th language.

CEO of SANDA, Jabulane Blose, said that the legal recognition of the language would promote deaf people’s equal participation in society.

Blose also called on tertiary institutions to make it readily available to students.

"The challenge is that there are only a few institutions offering Sign Language at the moment. There is limited access to it," he said.

A report from the CRL stated that approximately 80% of the world’s 70 million deaf people do not have access to education, with only 1-2% getting an education in Sign Language.

"We need to start with universities, [making] basic Sign Language available at schools. At the University of Free State, for example, we have Sign Language available. We need more training programmes to be implemented so there is momentum," said Blose.

World Hearing Day was celebrated on March 3.

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