September officially marks the celebrations of Global Deaf Awareness Month, as well as International Week of Deaf people starting from 19 – 25 September 2022.
The intention for this year’s theme “Building Inclusive Communities for All” is to promote awareness as well as equality for deaf persons in South Africa.
However, September is also heritage month in South Africa. A month in which we celebrate and recognise cultural diversity. Including those of the deaf culture and Sign Language.
Sign language is slowly on its way to becoming an official language in South Africa.It has already been recognised as a home language in the education system. Over 4 million South Africans have different levels of hearing loss, and about 1.5 million persons communicate in South African Sign Language (SASL).
This comes after, President Ramaphosa’s cabinet approved the Constitutional Eighteenth Amendment Bill for public comment in order to amend section 6 of the Constitution to officially recognition the South African Sign Language as South Africa’s twelfth official language
Deaf people communicate by lip-reading or with sign language. With South African Sign Language (SASL) officially recognised as a home language in education, we are recognising deaf culture as a fundamental part of South African culture.
According to the South African National Deaf Association (SANDA), some of the causes of hearing loss includes:
- Age: As one gets older, it’s normal for your hearing to deteriorate.
- Noise: Extreme noise is the cause of half of all cases of hearing loss. People who live near airports and freeways are exposed to high noise levels that over a long period can impact their hearing.
- Genetic: Hearing loss can be inherited. Both dominant and recessive genes exist, which can cause mild to profound hearing impairment.
- Illness: Illnesses like measles, meningitis, mumps may cause auditory nerve damage.
- Neurological disorders: Neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and strokes can affect hearing as well.
- Physical trauma: People who sustain head injuries are especially vulnerable to hearing loss, either temporary or permanent.