SOUTH AFRICAN SIGN LANGUAGE – As a school subject
Over the past three years SLED implemented a unique set of programmes in Deaf education. In 2016 and 2017 SLED continued with intensive learning and teaching support material development for the South African Sign Language curriculum, with matching teacher training (Deaf and hearing teachers) especially in teaching SASL literature. By the end of 2017 SLED had developed 228 SASL DVDs in comprehensive KITS with teaching guides, learner workbooks, games, posters, cards and puzzles for 8 different Grades. At present over 400 of these KITS are used in Deaf schools across South Africa.
The aims of the 2018 project included to establish a core of Deaf South African Sign Language (SASL) teachers at three schools in three provinces with an appreciation for SASL literature, with the capacity to communicate professionally about their work, as well as the skills to clearly present a lesson, and to develop their own learning and teaching resource. SLED is supporting the schools to become centres of excellence in language education for Deaf learners.
We anticipated meeting the goals we had set for 2018, but the enthusiasm and commitment from the Deaf participants surpassed our hopes by far, from the first morning of the first workshop day onwards.
This was the first full training in SASL designed only in SASL and presented in SASL. Participants explained that they had simply never had this experience, to be taught about their own language in their own language. They felt they were able to fully participate for the first time in their lives. Participants were bursting with energy, questions, as well as emotional and cultural responses to literature. The workshops demanded a great deal of focus from participants.
The Deaf teachers and teaching assistants expressed a new sense of ownership of the language, the subject, the responsibility to Deaf learners. As the training progressed, participants also started expressing confidence in having the ability to gain the skills to make the difference.
At the same time the Deaf SLED facilitators rose to the challenge of playing a key role in modelling good teaching, and supporting the participants throughout the process. SLED Deaf facilitators each took care of 8 participants in online tutorial groups throughout the year between workshops. This worked well for participants.
Participants were assessed in 5 accredited SASL Unit Standards at NQF Level 4 and 5 amounting to 23 credits, as well as in a range of internal SLED assessments on SASL literature, planning and lesson planning.
The SLED team, participating schools’ principals, and the 24 Deaf participants are proud of the strides made in 2018. They are looking forward to the programmes for 2019 to 2021, which includes school based SASL implementation and assessments in 2019, and moving towards working with teaching English in Foundation Phase from 2020!