01 September 2021 | Story Rulanzen Martin

As in previous years, the Department of South African Sign Language and Deaf Studies (SASL) – a pioneering force within deaf studies – will embark on a broader campaign to create much-needed awareness of the deaf. 

This year’s #UFSDeafAwarenesscampaign aims to inform and contribute to an inclusive society, not only among the UFS community, but also among the public. The department, together with the Centre for Universal Access and Disability Support, provides exceptional support to the 16 deaf and hard of hearing students at the UFS. 

Jani de Lange, Lecturer in Deaf Studies at the UFS, says the deaf forms part of the diverse South African community – “however, there are still many misconceptions about the deaf world. Therefore, deaf awareness plays an important role in facilitating a bridge between hearing and deaf people”.  

Awareness, duty, and social responsibility collide 

Many of the staff in the department considers themselves part of the deaf community. “They play a major role in educating others through our academic programmes, as well as continuous workshops and short learning programmes,” says De Lange. She continues, saying that by celebrating Deaf Awareness Month, “we are reminded of our role and responsibility towards the deaf.” 

The department also has a long-standing relationship with Mimosa Mall in Bloemfontein, with conversational students displaying their final group projects in the centre of the shopping mall.  Mimosa is also a partner in school-based projects, such as the Bartimea School for the Deaf and Blind in Thaba Nchu. “Every year, the department, together with our student association, Signals, and all interested Sign Language students, visits Bartimea, where we host a variety of activities with the children and also help the school with small maintenance projects. In 2019 – the last time we were able to visit the school – we repainted parts of the Foundation Phase’s playground,” De Lange says.

“We hope that the public will take the time to read about deafness, Sign Language, and the deaf community to understand the exciting traditions of the culture.”  The end goal is to encourage a greater understanding that ‘you do not need hearing to listen’

Getting the community involved 

To get people involved in the campaign, the department invites UFS staff to participate in a competition where they can learn how to introduce themselves in SASL. The department is also planning an informal training session for staff and students on 7 September 2021. 

The Department of SASL and Deaf Studies also presents a FREE Introduction to SASL short learning programme. 

  Click here for more information 

 #UFSDeafAwarenessMonth #DeafAwareness #DeafCommunity


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