Recognition-of-South-African-Sign-Language-SASL-as-the-12th-official-language-Pretoria-Johannesburg-Cap-Town-Durban

Recognition of South African Sign Language (SASL) as the 12th Official Language

South Africa, with its diverse cultures and intricate past, is a country committed to achieving inclusiveness and harmony. In this context, the recognition of South African Sign Language (SASL) as the 12th official language represents a significant step towards acknowledging and promoting the rights of the deaf community in the country. In May 2023, the National Assembly approved amending Section 6 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 to include South African Sign Language (SASL) as an official language to advance the rights of deaf persons. Furthermore, the recognition of South African Sign Language (SASL) as the 12th official language is a crucial step towards fostering inclusivity, equality, and linguistic diversity in the nation. By acknowledging the unique linguistic needs of the deaf community, South Africa can further solidify its commitment to a truly inclusive and representative democracy. The recognition of South African Sign Language (SASL) as the 12th official language goes beyond linguistic justice. It demonstrates the nation’s dedication to creating an inclusive society. This guarantees inclusive participation and contribution to the Rainbow Nation’s cultural diversity, irrespective of individuals’ communication preferences.

The Historical Context of Language Recognition in South Africa

Recognition-of-South-African-Sign-Language-SASL-as-the-12th-official-language-Pretoria-Johannesburg-Cap-Town-DurbanSouth Africa has a history marred by apartheid, a system that institutionalized discrimination and segregation. In the post-apartheid era, the country embarked on a journey of reconciliation and inclusivity. The 1996 Constitution of South Africa was a landmark document that recognized the country’s linguistic diversity and granted official status to 11 languages, including Afrikaans, English, isiZulu, isiXhosa, and others.

However, the linguistic needs of the deaf community were not explicitly addressed in the initial constitutional framework. This oversight sparked advocacy efforts by the deaf community, leading to a growing awareness of the importance of recognizing SASL as a bona fide language deserving of official status.

Educational Implications

Recognition-of-South-African-Sign-Language-SASL-as-the-12th-official-language-Pretoria-Johannesburg-Cap-Town-DurbanRecognition of South African Sign Language (SASL) as the 12th official language has profound implications for education in South Africa. Deaf learners have the right to receive education in their primary language, enabling them to access information more effectively and fostering a stronger sense of identity. Teachers and educational materials now need to accommodate SASL, ensuring that the educational system is inclusive and responsive to the linguistic needs of all students.

This amendment greatly broadens SASL’s status as the official language to learn at a public school, which has been recognised since 1996 under the South African Schools Act. This law refers to “a recognised sign language.” PanSALB is responsible for such recognition. This is according to the Department of Basic Education’s 2002 amended National Curriculum Statement for Home Language. Public schools can now formally teach deaf students in their comprehensible language, granting them the privilege of an inclusive education.

Furthermore, the recognition of South African Sign Language as the 12th official language will promote the development and preservation of the language itself. Institutions can offer SASL courses, contributing to a better understanding of the language and its cultural significance. This, in turn, would strengthen the bonds between the deaf community and the broader South African society.

Equal Employment Opportunities

The recognition of South African Sign Language (SASL) as the 12th official language will ensure a more inclusive hiring process, ensuring that deaf individuals have equitable employment possibilities. Employers can be more willing to accept deaf individuals and make reasonable concessions to help them integrate into the workforce. Employers will need to invest in training programmes to teach employees about SASL and deaf culture. This will result in a more inclusive and understanding workplace. Training programmes could include teaching SASL to employees, hence improving workplace communication.

Furthermore, the recognition of South African Sign Language as the 12th official language might contribute to the removal of communication barriers that could hinder the career advancement of deaf individuals. Deaf employees can actively engage in professional development opportunities and progress within their organizations for enhanced positioning and advancement.

The recognition of South African Sign Language (SASL) as the 12th official language is a matter of linguistic justice. A crucial step towards fostering active participation in South Africa’s social, cultural, and political life for all citizens.

South Africa’s recognition of SASL as the 12th official language signals inclusivity, emphasizing democracy’s diversity, extending beyond spoken languages. This recognition contributes to breaking down communication barriers and fostering a more inclusive society. It empowers the deaf community to engage fully with the broader population.

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Recognition of South African Sign Language (SASL) as the 12th official language
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Recognition of South African Sign Language (SASL) as the 12th official language
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Learn more about South Africa's commitment to inclusivity through the recognition of South African Sign Language (SASL) as the 12th official language
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