FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
02 MAY 2023, PRETORIA
PanSALB HEARTLY WELCOMES PASSING OF THE 18TH CONSTITUTION AMENDMENT BILL BY THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY TO MAKE SOUTH AFRICAN SIGN LANGUAGE AN OFFICIAL LANGUAGE
The Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) welcomes the passing of the Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill by unanimous vote to include South African Sign Language as the 12th Official language in the country. This is a significant milestone that reaffirms the rights of Deaf persons to have access to quality information and services. The exclusion of the Deaf community in our society has had a negative impact on their ability to be active participants within their communities. Therefore, whilst we celebrate this great milestone in the history of our country, we must also focus on the effective implementation and inclusion of South African Sign Language within our language policies and practices by adopting cross-sectoral policies and programmes to address the needs of the Deaf community.
The South African Sign Language Charter (SASL Charter) provides a blueprint to not only aide in improving the Deaf community’s access to quality information but also to ensure the effective protection of the linguistic rights of the Deaf community in a manner that is equitable and courteous.
“This is a watershed moment for the Deaf community. As PanSALB we welcome this great stride in affirming the linguistic rights of Deaf persons and call upon government departments and society at large to ensure that this is not just a piece of legislation that is set aside. We must ensure that there are adequate resources allocated to its implementation to ensure that we improve the quality of access to information and services by the Deaf Community” said PanSALB CEO, Mr Lance Schultz.
He added that the recognition of South African Sign Language as an official language contributes towards raising awareness that South African Sign Language is a fully-fledged language with its own distinct grammatical structures and lexicon that is independent of any other language and is indigenous to South Africa and constitutes an important element of South African linguistic and cultural heritage.
Released on behalf of PanSALB: Ntombentle Huluhulu
Head: Marketing and Communication
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