Shining the Light on South African Sign Language
On 28 February 2013, parents of pupils at the Noluthando School for the Deaf in Khayelitsha and community members who attended South African Sign Language (SASL) training sessions were awarded with certificates for their participation. The training sessions aimed to create awareness of the needs of those who are deaf as well as promote South African Sign Language.
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) held regular SASL training sessions from October to December 2012. The 17 sessions were presented by Armand Kleinschmidt and Marsanne Selzer from From the Hip Khulumakahle (FTHK). For the training sessions in Khayelitsha, Mr Kleinschmidt embraced the vocabulary of the community and taught Sign Language in the Khayelitsha dialect. The Noluthando School for the Deaf in Khayelitsha is one of approximately 10 schools for the Deaf in the Western Cape.
The prerequisite for attending the sessions last year were that participants should have successfully completed previous assessments done in 2011 by the University of the Free State. However, due to the great interest in the programme and the need for community members and parents to learn sign language, more participants were accommodated as it would benefit the community of Khayelitsha immensely.
The 18 certificates were handed over by the Director of Arts, Culture and Language Services, Jane Moleleki. She also rewarded the attendants with kinetic torches. This is truly significant due to the fact that one of the ways for deaf people to attract each other’s attention is through using light.
In her encouraging message to the attendants, Bianca Meyer of the Arts, Culture and Language Service directorate said: “We have to shine the light on the road to map the way ahead for Sign Language”
SASL is the primary language used by Deaf South Africans with it being used during television news broadcasts in South Africa and on Deaf TV. South Africa is one of the few countries that have a television programme solely dedicated to the Deaf community.
The department’s objective with the training sessions was to bring together the community members and children to learn each other’s language and thus work together. Sign Language is like any other language and without language we can do nothing. The department intends to cultivate the interest in Sign Language for South Africans to become better together by using South African Sign Language.