22 September 2021 | Story Michelle Nöthling | Photo Supplied
Peet Jacobs.

Peet Jacobs is no stranger to the Deaf community in and around the UFS and Bloemfontein. He has been working at the University of the Free State (UFS) for the past six years, and he is still amazed at the amount of support our institution provides to Deaf students in particular, and to South African Sign Language (SASL) in general. “They provide excellent interpreting services,” Peet says, “not only in face-to-face classes, but also on different online platforms, as well as interpreting pre-recorded lectures and videos.” And as a SASL interpreter, Peet is an integral part of this service. 

But signing is not merely a day job for Peet. He carries his skill into the community in his spare time, where he assists as an interpreter at hospitals, doctors’ rooms, and psychiatrists’ offices – to name but a few. What gives Peet the deepest satisfaction, however, is when he can combine his love of Sign Language with his love of the Bible and his God. It was actually Peet’s devotion to his religion that inspired him to learn Sign Language in order to enable him to carry the Word of God into the Deaf community. Peet now also presents Bible courses in SASL and assists a non-profit organisation to produce SASL Bible-based publications, which are translated and recorded in video format. 

Peet aspires to become an authority on SASL subject-specific vocabulary related to subject in higher education. “Sign Language is a language in its own right,” Peet points out. “The uniqueness of Deaf culture and the variety of dialects within SASL give the language diversity and colour.” Peet goes on to emphasise how important it is that SASL is recognised as an official language in our country. “This recognition will give dignity to a group of people who have been marginalised in South Africa. This will also pave the way to providing more inclusivity and service to the Deaf community.”

Until then, Peet will continue to serve the best way he knows how: through signing.

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