The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) welcomes the recognition of the South African Sign Language as the country’s 12th  official languages.

Today, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed into law, the South African Sign Language Bill;  this after the National Assembly approved the amendment of Section 6 of the Constitution to include the South African Sign Language (SASL)as the official language. As we welcome this milestone, we believe it is long overdue. It should have been recognised when the country’s constitution recognised the eleven official languages in 1996.

As an official language, SASL will have a special legal status to be used officially in the courts, parliament, and all administrative branches. Besides the language, the law seeks to advance the cultural acceptance of the SASL, promotes inclusiveness will prevent the unfair discrimination on the grounds of disability.

SADTU regards this recognition as a progressive move as it deepens the linguistic and cultural rights of deaf people enabling them to participate in the country’s  matters on an equal basis with others. We believe it will go a long way towards promoting understanding and bridging the gap between the Deaf and hearing people. It will also allow Deaf children exposure to the language early in life to reach their potential.

Further, it ensures that no one is left behind. For the deaf community it means socially they will no longer be excluded as doors of opportunities will open.  The deaf community has long been facing  high levels of poverty, unemployment, a lack of access to education and health service.

Championing for equality is a prerequisite for the realisation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Deaf persons and signing communities can only be an equal part of our societies if the conditions necessary for them to use their language are met.

We hope this recognition will see advocacy programmes and resources put aside to ensure that more people are taught the language, more especially in hospitals, police stations and banks so that the deaf are served in their language without them having to bring interpreters.

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat

CONTACT: General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968

                   Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651

                   Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157