MINISTER ANROUX MARAIS
Good morning, Molweni, Goeie more.
It is a pleasure to be here today to be part of the launch of the SA Sign Language dictionary, as well as the start of deaf awareness month.
The Western Cape Government is committed to supporting and promoting the development and use of SA Sign Language in our province. As part of our department’s vision, we aim to create a society that is inclusive and that fosters social cohesion. A big part of that vision is to ensure that we can promote the use of our official languages, including SA Sign Language.
The move towards declaring SA Sign Language as our 12th official language will mean that the world will be opened up so much more to our deaf community and that we are more inclusive in all that we do.
The launch of this dictionary is a great step in making SA Sign Language more accessible to everyone across our province. We are proud to have been able to be part of the process and support the development of this dictionary. It is wonderful to see these kinds of initiatives being driven to promote sign language.
I am also excited about the fact that this dictionary is a product that is available electronically on mobile devices. This means that the dictionary can be carried along on your phone and isn’t a separate publication. This is a very innovative way to capitalize on the fact that many of us have our phones with us at all times and so it ensures that you can always have the dictionary at hand.
As we are also celebrating deaf awareness month, it is very important that we discuss issues of inclusion for our deaf community. There are many ways that we can ensure we make experiences accessible for those who cannot hear and we must start looking at innovative ways to provide this accessibility. My department is committed to ensuring that we support organisations and individuals in promoting and accessing information in SA Sign Language.
In the Western Cape, we are privileged to have a dynamic and passionate team working with us to ensure that we are accessible to all. This includes using sign language interpreters at our events and looking at ways of developing new information and content to assist us in being more inclusive.
I would like to thank the Pan South African Language Board, as well as the National Institute for the Deaf, for the work that they have done in developing this dictionary, but also for the continuous role they play in promoting SA Sign Language. You are valued partners to the department and we appreciate all that you are doing to ensure that all our official languages are developed and promoted.
My hope for the future is that we can create a society where no person is excluded due to language barriers and where everyone can access basic services with dignity, in their home language.