Johannesburg - The Pan SA Language Board (PanSALB) has welcomed Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga's approval to allow deaf pupils to choose sign language as a first language.

“This is indeed a positive response not only to the deaf community, but also to the entire country, particularly to those who wish to study sign language,” PanSALB board chairman Mbulungeni Madiba said in a statement on Wednesday.

“PanSALB is of the view that South African sign language, like any other official language, is a fundamental human right that should be treated equally.”

The Times newspaper on Tuesday reported that Motshekga approved it this month, and it could possibly be available next year.

This would be rolled out at schools for the deaf first, and then be expanded to other schools.

“We are looking forward to working with the department of basic education to ensure that... [it] becomes a success and contributes immensely to empower the deaf community... to participate on [an] equal basis with others as productive members of society,” said Madiba.

Sapa