South African Sign Language (SASL) was recognised by the Department of Basic Education last year by including it for the first time in the 2018 National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations as an official home language subject.
The Dominican School for the Deaf in Wynberg, Western Cape, had four pupils who took the 2018 Sign Language exam, and they describe this as a victory for the deaf community.
“It is a great victory for us. It gives confidence to deaf people because their language is recognised,” expressed principal of Dominican School for the Deaf, Cindy Rutter, to News24.
For the final exam in Sign Language, pupils worked in closed-off booths where they watched questions in sign language before taking videos of themselves signing the answers.
This was the first time students were studying SASL as a home language, with there being no textbooks available previously, which means everything had to be developed from scratch.
“They had to learn what other kids learn when they do English or Afrikaans throughout school. Sign language has its own grammar and structure, so from Grade 9 they had to catch up,” added Rutter.
“This is a major milestone in the consolidation of the rights of deaf people to balanced and accessible education,” noted CEO of South African Deaf Association (SANDA), Jabulani Blose.