Former ConCourt Judge Zak Yacoob has urged businesses and government departments to have at least one staff member able to use sign language.File photo: Gcina Ndwalane
Sign language will become South Africa’s 12th official language.

That’s the word from former Constitutional Court Justice Zak Yacoob, who attended the launch of this year’s Talk Sign Campaign on Wednesday at Chateau Gateaux in Durban. It aims to promote awareness about the issues faced by the deaf and hearing impaired.

Talk Sign Day will be held next Friday, and people are encouraged to buy stickers in support. On Friday was World Hearing Day.

As chairperson of the KwaZulu-Natal Blind and Deaf Society, Yacoob has urged businesses and government departments to have at least one staff member able to use sign language.

“Sign language is going to become our 12th language; I have no doubt it is going to happen,” said Yacoob, who is blind.

“What is a blind person doing talking about deaf people? We all have some disability or another, and we can get too introspective about ourselves instead of worrying about others.

“I am conscious of people with all disabilities. To be deaf can be to live in an isolated and lonely world; with no-one to sign for them is absolutely horrendous.

“People with hearing should help break the barriers.”

On February 11, it was reported Parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee was preparing to present its findings to the National Assembly that SA Sign Language be recognised as the country’s 12th official language. The change would require an amendment to the language clause of the constitution.

Yacoob would like compulsory hearing tests for Grade 1 pupils, to better understand the challenge.

The Talk Sign campaign was first launched by the KwaZulu-Natal Blind and Deaf Society four years ago.