Sign Language officially becomes South Africa’s 12th Language


By Theodorah waga Mawasha

President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed into law a bill that officially recognizes sign language as South Africa’s 12th language. Ramaphosa announced a ceremony at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, on Wednesday, July 19.

The presidency said recognising sign language was a step towards realizing the rights of people who are deaf and hard at hearing.

The National Assembly approved in May that section 6 of the constitution be amended to include South African sign language (SASL), as an official language to promote the rights of persons who are deaf and hard at hearing.

“South African sign language is an indigenous language that constitutes an important element of South African linguistic and cultural heritage”, Ramaphosa said.

“This is the first step towards inclusivity and there is still a need to change laws around education for people who are deaf”, he added.

According to Dr Claudine Storbeck from the Center for deaf studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, the deaf community had been campaigning for this bill for the past 25 years.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *