23/09/2022 - Fedsas
International Day of Sign Languages is celebrated Friday, 23 September 2022 as part of the World Federation of the Deaf’s International Week of the Deaf.
“It is important that we create an inclusive school system that takes into account the needs of the deaf,” says Dr. Jaco Deacon, CEO of FEDSAS (Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools). Deacon says the announcement earlier this year that South African Sign Language will soon become our country’s 12th official language, as well as the National Department of Basic Education’s indication that the language will be included as an option in the school curriculum is a big step forward.
“South African Sign Language is a complete language with its own grammar, vocabulary, and syntax. If more people can use South African Sign Language, it will make an important contribution to inclusivity. Just imagine the difference it will make if more interpreters are available to facilitate participation for deaf people in for example school governing body meetings.”
FEDSAS is already contributing to this ideal in that the video material for governing body training (a series of six videos) is also available in South African Sign Language.
Deacon says although the education system makes provision for deaf learners at specific schools it will benefit education in South Africa and society if there is more access to and understanding of South African Sign Language. “For instance, how many people are aware that there is no generic sign language? In our country, we use South African Sign Language, which is one of more than 300 sign languages worldwide.”
FEDSAS supports efforts to expand access for people with hearing and other disabilities. “We equip governing bodies to promote quality education in public schools. This includes that the organization’s resources should be accessible to all members. In addition to training material in SA Sign Language, the Afrikaans version of the popular FEDSAS publication A practical guide to school governance was published in Afrikaans braille earlier this year.”