Deaf want language recognition

A group of young dancers entertain the crowd.

Calls are mounting for sign language to be given the same prominence as South Africa’s other official languages, particularly on television channels.

While the language has been recognised as one of the country’s official languages, fewer strides have been made to put it on par with the rest of the official languages.

Recently, South African Sign Language was recognised by Umalusi as a home language for the country’s education system, meaning it will be an examinable languages for the Senior National Certificate.

However, on Friday March 23 further calls were made at Noluthando School for the Deaf for the language to be fully incorporated into the country’s television channels as a basic human right and to end discrimination against deaf people.

The Khayelitsha-based school held an awareness campaign for pupils and parents around human rights for disabled and deaf people. The event came two days after the nation celebrated Human Rights Day, on Wednesday March 21.

Lillian Monakali, a teacher at the school, said deaf people were treated differently at home, in society and at schools.

“It is rare to see interpreters on TV,” she said. “It is basic human rights that we have been fighting for for our kids.”

Ms Monakali said there was also a need to build more schools that cater for children with autism as the waiting list was getting longer.

“The journey ahead is still very long.

“We’ve got to persevere. Things are not going to change overnight. But as people who are closer to these children, we feel the pain most,” said Ms Monakali.

School principal Ayanda Ncinane said the event had been organised to raise awareness among pupils and parents, whose children had disabilities.

He said there was still a lot of discrimination against people with disabilities, in society and at schools and called for more education around the issue.

“It is our responsibility to educate our society about the type of learners we have and for them to be treated equally irrespective of gender and everything,” said Mr Ncinane.

He also suggested that the school organise “open days” for parents and the society to see what they do.