UEL facilitates the convergence of Deaf and Hearing communities

19th Mar 2019

Sarah Haffenden

– by Noluthando Makhaza

DeafSA estimates that there are approximately 4 000 000 people in South Africa who would say they are part of the deaf community, (Jamie Berke: 2018). These people have common experiences which bind them together; the experience of growing up deaf, a common language and a feeling of identity within the community. Although the majority of this community will be deaf, some will be hearing children of deaf parents, partners, siblings, colleagues or friends who choose to spend time with members of the deaf community. As UKZN Extended Learning, we are proud to offer the basic Sign Language programme in order to assist delegates achieve an appropriate level of language proficiency in South African Sign Language.

Like any other language, Sign language also has its own unique history. The history of education of the deaf in South Africa started as early as 1863, where the Irish nuns were involved in training programmes for the deaf. Irish Sign Language, originally heavily influenced by French Sign Language, is said to have had a noticeable influence on sign language in the world, including South Africa  (Storbeck, Claudine & Martin, et al: 2010).

Facilitating our ongoing programme for twelve consecutive Wednesdays is Ms Monique Sutcliffe who possesses 21 years’ experience in teaching South African Sign Language (SASL) to hearing students ranging from basic communicative SASL skills to advanced (level 3) skills. She qualified at Fulton School for the Deaf and has adapted and facilitated programmes for pre-school, primary school learners, as well as university students and corporate clients.

There are many examples of communities in this country where people are brought together by common experiences, a feeling of identity and/or a common language. The Deaf community, with their common language, form one of the communities existing within our larger society. Due to our country’s diversity, the Deaf community co-exists with the hearing community and therefore bridging the gap is as important as practically learning the language. During the programme, Monique tries to bridge the gap by teaching day-to-day communicative language skills such as the rules of communication; parameters of sign; possession and referral signs; as well as productive topics on personal, social and general experiences. 

We wish our delegates the very best of experience and we hope that this programme will achieve its desired goal which is to bridge the gap between the deaf and hearing communities of our country, either at home, in the workplace or in social settings. Should you wish to be part of the next intake, please click here.