Minister Fernandez commemorates International Day of Sign Languages | Western Cape Government


Minister Fernandez commemorates International Day of Sign Languages

23 September 2021

Today, 23 September 2021, the Western Cape Minister for Social Development, Sharna Fernandez, is commemorating International Day of Sign Languages to promote the linguistic identity and cultural diversity of all deaf people and other individuals using various sign languages.

This year's theme adopted by the World Federation of the Deaf is "We Sign For Human Rights," 'to highlight how each of us – deaf and hearing people around the world – can work together hand in hand to promote the recognition of our right to use sign languages in all areas of life.'

"I stand in solidarity with the Deaf community not just today, but 365 days of the year. 

We are all united by the common fact that we are first human beings before anything else. Let us stand united in our efforts to eliminate any barrier that prevents us from expressing our individuality and building a more inclusive society," Minister Fernandez.

According to the World Federation of the Deaf, approximately 72 million deaf people worldwide, with more than 80% living in developing countries. Collectively, there are more than 300 different forms of sign languages.

The World Federation of the Deaf also highlights that sign languages are fully-fledged natural languages that are structurally distinct from spoken ones. Sign languages are crucial means for an individual to express him or herself to connect with others and participate in all aspects of economic, social, cultural and political spheres. 

With the support of its Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs), the provincial Department of Social Development provides the following support for the Deaf persons living in the Province:

  • Deaf awareness and outreach programmes;                                   
  • Early intervention programmes that include psycho-social support services to Deaf individuals and their families; 
  • Group therapy and life skills workshops;                                          
  • Socio-economic programmes to help facilitate job placements for Deaf individuals;                          
  • Providing advocacy and language support (interpretation of policies and procedures for deaf people in courts);
  • Education - training programmes for deaf persons on their socio-economic rights and responsibilities;
  • Early detection of hearing disability programmes;                                                  
  • Therapeutic and developmental services to deaf individuals;                                              
  • Deaf women support and empowerment programmes;                                                      
  • Centre-based sign language training programmes for hearing parents and siblings of deaf children;
  • Deaf elderly persons participating in senior citizen groups;
  • Mentorship programmes and capacity building for Deaf individuals;                                                        
  • Rehabilitative and counselling services to deafened and deafblind persons and;
  • Provision of 24-hour residential care to residents includes elements of care, protection, support, rehabilitation and stimulation of people within residential facilities.

"Together, we can build an inclusive society where the dignity and wellbeing of all citizens are protected and upheld," concluded Minister Fernandez.

For more information contact:

Any persons interested in finding out more information about the services we offer those people with disabilities can contact our department by calling 0800 220 250, to be directed to your nearest local DSD office.

For more information about our other services, please refer to the Western Cape Department's Website below:

Media Enquiries: 

Joshua Covenant Chigome

Spokesperson for the Minister of Social Development, Minister Sharna Fernandez

Tel: 021 483 9217

Cell: 083 661 4949