The importance of sign languages should be recognised in South Africa, social development MEC Sharna Fernandez, said on Wednesday as the world celebrated International Day of Sign Languages.
“We are committed to not only raising awareness about the challenges faced by people with hearing disabilities but also to continue providing the necessary support to these individuals so that they are empowered and have an equal opportunity to participate in all spheres of life,” Fernandez said.
“We wish to reiterate that we remain committed to establishing an inclusive society in which no man or woman is left behind,” said Fernandez.
According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are approximately 72 million worldwide – more than 80 percent of whom live in developing countries – and collectively, they use more than 300 different sign languages.
Fernandez said the World Federation of the Deaf also highlighted that sign languages carefully-fledged natural languages, structurally distinct from the spoken languages.
Her organization supports people with hearing disabilities within the Western Cape with outreach and deaf awareness programs, support services and their families, life skills, and group therapy workshops, providing language support and advocacy such as interpretations of policy procedures for deaf persons in court, report the African News Agency.
“It is of crucial importance that the provision of integrated programmes and services to people with hearing impairments and their families or caregivers are maintained,” Fernandez said.