Sign Language Education and Development

The status of South African Sign Language (SASL) in South Africa


South African Sign Language is probably our oldest indigenous language, and is the most basic human right of the Deaf Community. It has become widely recognised and protected in various legislative and governmental policies (and is even acknowledged as a language equal in status to the 11 official languages in the country). And yet, the dearth of material and trained educators in SASL creates a situation where this recognition is almost meaningless unless proper training can take place and suitable material be developed.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which came into force in 2008, in Article 24, specifically refers to the Sign Language needs of Deaf learners, and requires participating governments to facilitate the learning of their national Sign Language, the promotion of the linguistic identity of the Deaf community, to take appropriate measures to employ teachers, including Deaf teachers, who are qualified in the national Sign Language, and to train professionals and staff who work at all levels of education in their national Sign Language.

Our South African government has ratified this Convention, and we as South Africans are therefore obliged to work together to provide Deaf children with the opportunity to grow and live with healthy language development through SASL.

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