|dc.description.abstract||After the release of Act No 108 of 1996, the status of the nine African languages
of South Africa was elevated to that of English and Afrikaans and as a result, for
the first time in the history of languages, South Africa became the first country in
Africa to have eleven official languages. However, Sign Language for the Deaf
was left out even though Section 6(4) of the South African School's Act No 84 of
1996 puts it clearly that "A recognized sign Language has the status of an official
language for purposes of learning at a public school". In terms of Section 6 (5) (a)
of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Pan South African
Language Board was also given a task to promote, and create conditions for the
development and use of the Sign Language. DEAFSA (1996), states that Sign
Language is the first or natural language for the Deaf. In Act No. 108 of 1996:
Section 29(2) stipulates that: "Everyone has the right to receive education in the
official language or languages of their choice in public educational institution
where that is reasonably practicable".
The first objective of this study was to investigate if the South African Sign
Language (SASL) was a fully-fledged language and to find out more about the
present status of this language. The second objective was to examine if South
African Sign Language was taught to Parents of Deaf children from the Zulu
hearing community's point of view.
Marcel Jousse; a French Jesuit Anthropologist and linguist, firmly believes in the
anthropology of geste, which is synonymous with the anthropology of mimicry.
This theory forms the basis of language acquisition of all peoples of the world.
"The oral style with its mnemotechnic devices only comes into play once the
individual has been informed by a reality which he receives and replays through
his mimic being as a whole, (Fanning (1995:vii). This theory best describes the
manner in which signers acquire their sign language, which solely depends on
gestures made in the space by hands, body movements and facial expressions.
In this theory, the anthropos plays out the receptions of the universe, replays
them, stores them and revivifies them in expressions that are the mimisms of the
whole human compound: corporeal, ocular and auricular manual. Unfortunately,
the laryngo - buccal mimism is excluded in deaf people since they cannot speak.
A multi-disciplinary approach from the educational, linguistic, historical, political
and cultural perspectives was employed in collecting data for this study. The
samples for the study comprised deaf learners, deaf educators, and hearing
educators in schools for the deaf, interpreters of sign language, senior
management from the schools of Deaf learners and parents of the deaf children.
The researcher discovered that very little has been done by researchers and the
government of the day to assist the deaf to gain recognition in his or her
community. Parents of deaf children are unable to communicate fully with their
children. The study also revealed that deaf children prefer to be taught by deaf
teachers because they can identify much better with them. The researcher
discovered that literature for the deaf is non-existent in all spheres of their lives.
Sign language per se, is not taught as a subject. Deaf learners are not allowed to
take their subjects at a Higher Grade; as a result, they feel extremely
marginalized by the educators.
Promoting this language would improve our trade and industry, travel & tourism
etc. Student exchange programmes would also enhance the development of the
sign language locally, nationally and internationally. The Deaf would become
multilingual in the Sign Languages of the world when they come into contact with
Deaf people from other parts of the world. This would involve sport, education,
politics and other activities. The deaf would be equipped to meet various
challenges in life.
The Deaf people need to communicate freely amongst themselves and the
hearing community of our country should make an effort to learn the Sign
Language so that they are able to communicate with the deaf. This would
improve the socio-economic status of our country.||en