FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
31 AUGUST 2022, PRETORIA
PanSALB TO LAUNCH DEAF AWARENESS MONTH AND SOUTH AFRICAN SIGN LANGUAGE DICTIONARY
The Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) in conjunction with the National Institute for the Deaf (NID) will on Thursday, 1 September 2022, launch Deaf Awareness Month and the first bilingual South African Sign Language (SASL) Dictionary at a media briefing to be conducted at the Imbizo Media Centre, Parliament of South Africa and the official launch at Iziko Museums of South Africa, TH Barry Lecture Theatre in Cape Town.
“Deaf Awareness Month provides an opportunity for the government and the civil society alike to reflect on the privileges enjoyed by the hearing to access to quality information and services that is often not extended to the Deaf community. As the Board we shall continue to advocate for the adoption of the South African Sign Language Charter which must be effectively implemented in all sectors of our society for it to effect any meaningful change in the lives of Deaf people. The SASL Charter was launched by the Board in 2019 and sets out key pledges that take into consideration the interrelatedness of the challenges facing the Deaf community as well as the need for cross-sectoral policies and programmes pertaining to the needs of the Deaf community.”, said the PanSALB Board Chairperson, Prof Lolie Makhubu-Badenhorst.
“The amendment of section 6 of the Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill to include South African Sign Language as the 12th official language in the country is a major stride towards effective protection and promotion of linguistic rights of the Deaf community.”, said Chief Executive Officer Mr Lance Schultz.
As part of continued efforts to develop South African Sign Language in the country, the Board has been working closely with the NID to standardize and authenticate the bilingual SASL Dictionary that will be available as an App on smart phones to provide standardized SASL lexical terminology.
The NID is a registered non-profit organisation that has conducted extensive research in South African Sign Language and develops content targeted not only at the Deaf community but the hearing as well to bridge the communication gap that currently exists between the two. The bilingual SASL Dictionary that has been developed by the NID has over 3000 signs and 2500 English words which will facilitate teaching and learning between the two languages. “The NID believes in shifting the focus off the disability and onto the barriers which prevent the persons living with the disability from reaching their full potential. A well-researched SASL video dictionary is an important step in affording SASL the status of an official language in South Africa.”, said NID Chief Executive Officer Mr Cobus van Deventer.
“This status will go a long way in making it possible for persons relying on SASL for their primary communication to access services and opportunities that will enhance their participation in life. We are sincerely grateful to PanSALB for authenticating this SASL video dictionary and driving the development and recognition of SASL as an official language.”, he added.
Deaf Awareness Month
September is Deaf Awareness Month which coincides with the South African Heritage Month. This period is used to celebrate the rich cultural history of the Deaf community and continue the work of advocating for the rights of Deaf people. Throughout the month, PanSALB will be conducting various activities to raise awareness to bridge the gap between the hearing and the Deaf community to enhance social cohesion.