The Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) strongly condemns the use of South African Sign Language (SASL) in a mocking and derogatory manner as has been portrayed by various social media users on different online platforms. Whilst the institution appreciates the SASL awareness that has been achieved through the popularity of sign language interpreting during this period, a distinction ought to be drawn, however, between good ‘fun’ and insulting behaviour.
To that end, over the next couple of weeks PanSALB will be conducting online tutorials on the DO’s and DON’T’s of South African Sign Language, premised on the principles entailed in the PanSALB South African Sign Language Charter which governs all interaction with the Deaf community in the country.
“South African Sign Language is the language of the Deaf community in South Africa. It is an indigenous language that constitutes an important element of the South African linguistic and cultural heritage. Most importantly, SASL has its own distinct grammatical structures and lexicon. Therefore, its misrepresentation is not only insulting to the language users but also poses a risk to the development of a language that is still, for the most part, marginalised” said PanSALB Chief Executive Officer Dr Bongumenzi Mpungose.
It is hoped that the use of SASL interpreting will become normalised within the broadcasting industry to extend well over the COVID-19 pandemic response in order to uphold the values of inclusivity and multilingualism.