DEAF South Africans are renewing their call for sign language to be recognised as an official language.
DeafSA national director Bruno Druchen said the recognition of South African Sign Language (SASL) would enable deaf people to enjoy the same rights as other South Africans and improve the quality of their lives.
"SASL is well recognised in the constitution and given a special status but since no educational institution appears to abide by these constitutional provisions, they are essentially just for show. The question is whether SASL will simply have recognition or whether use of SASL ... will be given official and therefore legal force."
Druchen said SASL held the key to a deaf person's enjoyment of all human rights. "Deaf people have no access to their rights unless SASL becomes readily available to them as a means of access to communication, information and other forms of human experience," he said.
The Pan South African Language Board (PanSalb) supports the call for sign language to gain official status.
"There is currently a high unemployment rate of deaf people in the country. Violation of deaf people's linguistic rights can be directly linked to the fact that the language is not officially recognised; workers at most public institutions are not conversant in sign language and this creates barriers in service delivery," board spokesman Sibusiso Nkosi said.