Educating communities on the importance of Sign Language
The Language Unit of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sports (DCAS), in partnership with the Western Cape Language Committee (WCLC) and the National Institute for the Deaf, hosted a Celebration of Sign Language at the NID in Worcester on 5 December 2017. The awareness event highlighted the importance of sign language and informed the attendees on how they can be more considerate and respectful of the deaf community.
The Drakenstein Association for Persons with Disabilities Sign Language Choir opened the event with an emotional performance of The Prayer. Former Idols winner, Karin Kortje, provided entertainment and got the audience moving.
Mr Andries van Niekerk from NID spoke about deaf awareness issues and behaviour. One issue that was highlighted was language deprivation and how it affects development. According to Mr van Niekerk, inaccessible language is one of the biggest problems experienced by the deaf community. “What deaf people need most is an accessible language from birth, as this determines your path in life,” said Van Niekerk.
DCAS Minister Anroux Marais said that it was the responsibility of DCAS to promote the three official languages of the Western Cape - English, Afrikaans and Xhosa - as well as South African Sign Language (SASL). “Contrary to the popular belief that knowledge is power, I am of the opinion that instead, language is power… Because communication is key to understanding, tolerance and acceptance.” said Minister Marais. The complete speech is available online.
The Minister also launched a SASL poster, which encourages the public to contact the DCAS Language Unit if they need the services of a Sign Language interpreter. The Unit has compiled a database of qualified and trained Sign Language interpreters.
Through awareness and the promotion of SASL we are enabling people to work BETTER TOGETHER.