An investigation into the social identity of the South African deaf community : implications for the education of deaf learners.
All Deaf people in South Africa belong to the Deaf Community of South Africa. Within this Deaf Community there is a separate, minority language and cultural group which accepts Sign language, as its first and natural language. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa calls for the acknowledgement of and respect for all minority cultural groups, and recognises the language of the Deaf, that is, Sign language as an official language. This research has attempted to investigate the views of this cultural group and how they want to be perceived by the hearing people, how they want to conduct their lives within the realm of an overarching hearing society and more importantly, the implications of this acquired identity for the education of Deaf learners in South Africa. To document the data on Deaf Culture and the implications for education, the researcher engaged in qualitative research using the questionnaire approach. This instrument was administered to 18 profoundly Deaf adults from various provinces throughout South Africa and representative of the demographic population profile of the Deaf Community of South Africa. The study confirmed an emerging Deaf Culture and concluded that there needs to be redress and change with regard to the curriculum, the educators, the issue of mainstreaming, the status of Sign language and the provision of tertiary education in order for Deaf learners to be educated in the most enabling environment.