“The voice of the deaf has eventually been heard‚” said Shamila Surjoo‚ director of the KZN Blind and Deaf Society‚ as news broke that “sign” could soon become South Africa’s 12th official language.
On Tuesday‚ the Constitutional Review Committee recommended to parliament that South African Sign Language (SASL) be given official recognition. The committee‚ responding to a recommendation submitted by Deaf South Africa‚ declared that the move was “long overdue”.
The committee stated: “Deaf SA requested a review of sections 6 (1) and 6 (5) (a) [of the constitution] to include South African Sign Language (SASL) as an official language. Deaf SA was of the opinion that‚ while SASL is well recognised in the constitution and given a special status‚ it was not sufficient to enable deaf people to enjoy all constitutional rights.”
As its formal recommendation‚ the committee said: “The National Assembly and the National Council of Province should facilitate an amendment of the constitution to include SASL as one of South Africa’s official languages.”
Surjoo said: “All the lobbying and awareness has eventually paid off.” She said the deaf community had been campaigning for the recognition of SASL for several years.