Fortune Madlala is a professional South African Sign Language Interpreter and the Founder and CEO of Forch Communications
Fortune Madlala is a professional South African Sign Language Interpreter and the Founder and CEO of Forch Communications

The importance of sign language should be recognised as world celebrates International Day of Sign Languages

By Robin-Lee Francke Time of article published Sep 23, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - The importance of sign languages should be recognised in the Western Cape, 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 deaf persons 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.

Fernandez said the United Nations recognised the International Day of Sign Languages as a way to “support and protect the linguistic identity and cultural diversity” of all deaf people and other sign language users.

“We wish to reiterate that we remain committed to establishing an inclusive society in which no man or woman is left behind,” Fernandez said in a statement.

She said, according to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are about 72 million deaf people across the world with over 80 percent of them living in developing countries.

There are also over 300 different forms of 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 department and non-profit organisations (NPOs) support deaf persons within the Western Cape with outreach and deaf awareness programmes, psycho-social support services to deaf persons and their families, life skills and group therapy workshops, socio-economic programmes to assist job placement for deaf persons, providing language support and advocacy such as interpretations of policies and procedures for deaf persons in court.

They also provide early detection of hearing disability programmes, therapeutic and developmental services, support and empowerment programmes for deaf women, sign language training programmes for hearing parents and siblings, mentorship programmes, rehabilitative and counselling services and 24-hour residential care to residents.

“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.

African News Agency

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