Sign language is set to become official in South Africa – how this will help education in schools for the Deaf | SAPeople – Worldwide South African News

South African Sign Language is set to become the country’s 12th official language. Parliament approved a constitutional amendment in a bid to “promote the rights of persons who are deaf (sic) and hard of hearing”.Claudine Storbeck, founder and director of the Wits Centre for Deaf Studies at South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand, explains what the move could – and should – mean for Deaf education in the country.

What is the educational environment today for Deaf learners in South Africa?
There are 43 schools for the Deaf across the country. Of these, 38 use South African Sign Language (SASL) as the language of teaching and learning. The aim is to ensure that the complete academic curriculum is taught. However, the anecdotal feedback we get from teachers of the Deaf suggests that they are unable to fully complete the curriculum each year and this gap keeps growing.

There isn’t any data on hearing versus Deaf education nor on the number of qualified teachers of the Deaf. We at the Wits Centre for Deaf Studies plan to start such a database soon. We do know that the large majority of teachers in schools for the Deaf are hearing. They are not required to have any form of specialised training or qualification in Deaf education or in SASL before they are appointed. Their signing skills are not evaluated before they are appointed.

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