South Africa has officially recognized sign language as its 12th official language, a move that has been widely praised by the country’s deaf community.
The announcement was made by the Minister of Arts, Culture and Sports, Nathi Mthethwa, on May 5th, which coincides with the International Day of Sign Languages.
“Today we make history by declaring South African Sign Language as the 12th official language of our country,” Mthethwa said in a statement. “This is a significant milestone for our country and a victory for the deaf community.”
The recognition of sign language as an official language is a major step forward in promoting inclusivity and accessibility for the deaf community in South Africa. It will ensure that deaf people have the same rights and opportunities as those who speak any of the country’s other official languages, which include English, Zulu, Xhosa, and Afrikaans.
According to the South African National Association of the Deaf (SAND), there are approximately 4 million deaf people in the country, making up around 7.5% of the population. The recognition of sign language as an official language will not only benefit the deaf community, but will also raise awareness about the importance of sign language and the rights of deaf people.
“The recognition of South African Sign Language as an official language is a major step towards the inclusion of deaf people in society,” said Bruno Druchen, the national director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa. “It will enable deaf people to participate fully in all spheres of life, including education, employment, and civic engagement.”
The move has been welcomed by organizations and individuals across the country, who see it as a positive step towards a more inclusive and equitable society.
“By recognizing sign language as an official language, South Africa is demonstrating its commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion,” said Pumeza Nodada, a member of parliament. “This is an important milestone in our country’s history.”
The recognition of sign language as an official language comes as South Africa celebrates 27 years of democracy and continues to strive towards a more equal and just society for all its citizens.