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18 April 2019 | Story Rulanzen Martin

The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice IRSJ) has initiated a Social Justice Week at the University of the Free State (UFS), which started on Friday 12 April  until Wednesday 17 April 2019. 

Ten key events took place during the week. It ranged from dialogues, workshops, talk shows, debates, and interactive displays and events on issues of multilingualism and diversity, social innovation, engaged scholarship, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, gender sensitisation, sexual consent, sexual preparedness, universal access, disability, anti-discrimination, and security.

There was also a round-table discussion on 17 April 2019 with various UFS stakeholders on off-campus student security as well as an inter-institutional discussion on the same topic. The UFS Debating Society will take on the topic of the UFS Language Policy, while Olga Barends from the Free State Centre for Human Rights will host a dialogue on sexual consent.

The IRSJ has also designed and implemented SOJO-VATION: Social Innovation/ Social Change, which strives to create a foundational platform where ideas of social justice, innovation, and engaged scholarship at the UFS and in society can be hosted. SOJO-VATION partners with the Office for Student Leadership, Development, and Community Engagement.

The collaborating partners for the Social Justice Week includes various UFS stakeholders such as the Sasol library, the Gender and Sexual Equity Office, UFS Protection Services, the Free State Centre for Human Rights, the Student Representative Council (SRC), the Office for Student Leadership Development, Kovsie Innovation, GALA, the FFree State Centre for Human Rights, SRC Associations, the Office for Student Governance, Kovsie Innovate, Start-Up-Grind, EVC, EBL, Community Engagement, the Institutional Transformation Plan (ITP) Dialogues Office, Residence Dialogues, UFS Debating Society, Debate Afrika!, the Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS), and the Gateway Office. 

News Archive

Deaf Awareness Month empowers the hearing impaired
2015-09-21

There are more sign languages in the world than spoken languages. About 600 000 deaf South Africans have the South African Sign Language (SASL) as their first language. There are about 40 schools for the deaf in South Africa. 90% of all deaf children are born to hearing parents. Only about 30% of speech is visible on the lips.

How many of these fundamental facts did you know?

Deaf Awareness Month serves to educate hearing communities about issues that the deaf population face on a daily basis, as well as to honour the history and culture of people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. For the past 70 years, the University of the Free State (UFS) has dedicated September to hosting events around the topic of hearing impairment.

The theme of ‘With South African Sign Language rights, our children can!’

This year’s theme had learners from Bartimea School for the Deaf and Blind, hearing impaired UFS students, and Prof Jonathan Jansen engaged in a conversation around empowerment at a picnic held on Monday 7 September 2015 at the Red Square on the Bloemfontein Campus.

Through a sign language interpreter, Matshela, a grade 12 learner, explained that he felt empowered by the efforts the university has made to embrace and empower individuals with disabilities. He then revealed his intentions of pursuing Information Technology or Social Work studies at Kovsies.

Clifford Machete, a first-year Administration student at the university, stated how sign language interpreters gave him an ‘I can’ attitude when he first arrived at university.  “As a deaf person, I see that I am able to learn with the help of sign language interpreters. There is accessibility at the university, and I am so proud to be a student here and part of Deaf Awareness Month.”

Susan Lombaard, Lecturer and Acting Chairperson at the Department of South African Sign Language, believes that Deaf Awareness Month is about promoting human dignity.

“We want to show the world that deaf people can do everything, and that their language is as strong and important as any spoken language.”

For more information regarding Deaf Awareness Month activities, contact the South African Sign Language Department on 051 401 2251.

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