Sign Language recognised as a home language

South African Sign Language (SASL) has officially been recognised as a home language in the curriculum as one of the examinable subjects for the National Senior Certificate.

“It is a monumental step forward that SASL has now, for the very first time in South Africa, been officially recognised as a home language in our education system,” said the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training, Umalusi, in a statement.

The announcement by Umalusi follows a report it released of its research study on the inclusion of SASL in the curriculum.

The aim of the study was to provide guidance to Umalusi in its role as the quality assurer for SASL-Home Language, with specific reference to school-based assessment and national examinations.

According to the Council, the scope of the study also encompassed understanding how Deaf learners are assessed, as well as the kind of resources and materials required for assessment, including identifying potential national moderators and evaluators.

“Deaf learners in South Africa no longer need to feel like foreigners in their own land, and at last they can exercise their rights to be taught and assessed in their own language,” said Umalusi.

Recognition of SASL as a home language in the education system was highlighted by Umalusi as ground breaking as it serves to recognise “Deaf culture as a fundamental part of South African culture”.

When reflecting on this momentous occasion, Umalusi chairperson John Volmink said: “Today we can say to Deaf learners that the system has fully embraced them, that their language is valued and respected, and that they now have the opportunity to learn and study and be tested through the medium of their home language.”

The full details of the study are available in the report entitled, ‘Sign of the Times: The Quality of the Teaching and Assessment of South African Sign Language’.

The report is available on Umalusi website: www.umalusi.org.za. – SAnews.gov.za