Raising awareness for the deaf

The importance of including deaf people in conversation about deaf people should be the new normal.

Mr Deaf South Africa finalist and South African Sign Language (SASL) interpreter Thabo Nkatlo believes inclusivity of all people is required for adequate education.

The importance of including deaf people in conversation about deaf people should be the new normal.

Bridging the gap between the deaf and the hearing

While September is Deaf Awareness Month, a campaign aimed at shining a light on the challenges and perception facing those affected by hearing loss and deafness, Mr Deaf South Africa finalist and South African Sign Language (SASL) interpreter Thabo Nkatlo believes inclusivity of all people is required for adequate education.

Nkatlo appeared as a special guest at the iSchool Africa and Think Ahead discussion on the important role technology plays in bridging the gap between the deaf and the hearing. This year’s theme ‘keeping everyone in the conversation’ aims to do just that.

iSchool Africa has worked rigorously over the last few years to bring the best technology and classroom practices to the township and rural schools across the country. Through its programmes it has successfully uplifted and improved the lives and futures of the country’s youth.

The annual discussion accepted the challenge of a virtual presentation, a big change from its usual venue at the flagship iStore on Sandton Drive.

Learning from each other

According to iSchool Africa inclusion and accessibility facilitator Chelsea Williamson, having discussions that include both the hearing and the deaf are important because we can constantly learn from one another.

Williamson delivered her present with the help of audio and sign language. “Yes, I am hearing but this is not hearing awareness month, this is Deaf Awareness Month. And while I am able to communicate to you through sign language, having someone involved who is affected by deafness is important,” she said.

Proper interpretation and perspective

Nkatlo believes that corporates and businesses should involve more people affected by deafness because this will allow them to get a proper interpretation and perspective. “It is important for people with disabilities to know that they are not alone in this, it gives them something to relate to and it makes them feel comfortable,” he signed.

The biggest challenges between the deaf and the hearing worlds remains a lack of communication. Williamson noted that as technology continues to improve over the years, it hope to bridge that gap with a number of accessibility features that can be used by both hearing and hearing impaired individuals.

Nkatlo added that it also does not take a lot for anyone to do their own research, go onto YouTube and learn something about sign language. “There are a variety of SASL lessons online that showcase a multitude channels, websites and even mobile applications that can help you,” he signed.

Equal collaboration between the hearing and the deaf will help bridge the gap between both worlds.

Source: https://rosebankkillarneygazette.co.za/350757/raising-awareness-for-the-deaf/